For nearly 30 years, shoppers have been requesting that David Jones bring back its Wollongong food court, the department store’s chief operating officer said on Tuesday.
And, in October, this wish will finally come true – as the DJ’s multimillion dollar makeover of the city’s former Myer premises opens its doors.
Standing in the white-tiled construction zone which will be a dedicated food level, operating boss David Thomas said the area would be “a first of its kind” and was the most exciting part of the new store.
“After a lot of customer feedback, we’re bringing back something that was here 30 years ago,” he said.
“People of the Illawarra are big foodies and we think this will be something they will love.”
He said the lower level would have a butcher, wine store, bakery, florist, a sushi and fish counter, noodle bars and a central kitchen area, which would be open during trading hours to serve food.
The whole concept – which has been inspired by overseas successes like Marks and Spencer and Eataly – has been curated by famed chef Neil Perry, Mr Thomas said.
There will also be a “long life” section where patrons can buy packaged goods to cook at home.
“Anything you order on the menu will be available in the store, and anything available in the store you can order on the menu,” Mr Thomas said.
At present, the store is just vast empty spaces with lots of white plasterboard, but Mr Thomas said they would soon be “something quite special”.
Like Myer before it, the new shop will have women’s clothing and beauty lines on the top floor (opening to the top level of GPT’s southern Keira Street building).
Men’s, children’s and homewares will be on the ground level (opening to Globe Lane).
About $100 million will be spent upgrading the retail giant’s food business over the next three years, but it would not reveal how much has been spent gutting and refitting the old Wollongong department store.
The existing David Jones will trade up to October 4, before the new store opening on October 5.
The expansion will open up 50 new retail jobs, in addition to the 100 already at the Wollongong store.
The plans for the soon-to-be vacant 15,991 square metre site at 163-177 Crown Street and 80 Church Street – not owned by David Jones – are unknown.