With a name hailing from Mary Poppins and a view rivalled by few, rooftop bistro George Banks has surpassed the year-long whispers anticipating its opening.
As the son of established restaurateurs, George Banks owner Phil Coorey’s life has been embedded in the hospitality industry for as long as he can remember. He recounts how he first had his start, saying, “I remember in about 1992 when I was at boarding school, I would come home on weekends and help them (his parents) out with catering.” It was then no surprise that the Coorey family took over iconic hotel The Spotted Cow in 1995, transforming it into the landmark it is today.
Despite being the son of one of Toowoomba’s most celebrated pub families, Phil’s culinary journey has not been an easy one. Two years ago, the restaurant owner faced a challenging and bleak time when the obstacles he faced almost pushed him to look for career opportunities elsewhere. “I ran out of ideas and lost momentum,” said Phil. “It was definitely frustrating.”
Just as the pressure of zero prospects was setting in, Phil caught wind the heritage listed Westpac Bank Building was up for lease. He jumped at the chance to celebrate its history by transforming its rooftop space into Toowoomba’s newest gem George Banks. “When this opportunity came along, it felt like I was able to re-ignite my passion.”
Inspired by various leading eateries, bistros and restaurants located across Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne, Phil took elements of creativity and curated a menu and an experience unique to his rooftop marvel. And relics of George the Mary Poppins father figure are dotted throughout the bistro, from the umbrella emblem to grand velvet armchairs and gold embellishments.
Noting that the local hospitality landscape has shifted, Phil wants George Banks to be a throwback to the times when dining was a communal activity for socialising and enjoying good food. “We aim to achieve consistency in the food and alcohol offering. We want people to stay here and enjoy their time. No TVs, just humans like the good old days!”
Phil sings the praises of Toowoomba born Head Chef Chris Mann, whose career has taken him from Sydney to the Gold Coast, and finally back to Toowoomba. With his diverse experience in the industry and vast ambition, it is no surprise that Chris has been given free reign curating the George Banks menu. Boasting share plates with a Mediterranean twist and “mind blowing” flavours, Phil cannot help but gush. “I’m such a huge fan of the chef … some of his new food has me crying tears of joy.”
Even with a vibrant menu paired with a breathtaking view of the city’s rooftops, Phil maintains it was never his intention for George Banks to hog the spotlight. “We don’t want to stand out, we want to complement an amazing thriving industry in Toowoomba.”
It is clear George Banks has already done just that, adorning Toowoomba’s ever-growing dining and nightlife scene with a sparking crown that is proving to be supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.
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