One of Devonport’s best-known restaurant sites is getting a makeover before it reopens in March under new management.
Prema Smith, 32, was in his early twenties when he operated his first restaurant in Rooke Street for five years before he left Devonport driven by his ambitions for an acting and singing career in Sydney.
He is coming home to open Prem’s Seafood Bar and Grill, where Dannebrog’s used to be on the corner of Rooke and Oldaker Streets. Mr Smith said at Christmas he saw the restaurant had closed where he worked as a young kitchen hand.
After Dannebrog’s moved out, the site was leased by a French chef who briefly opened Lulu’s.
“I walked past and saw the building was vacant and spoke to the landlord,” Mr Smith said.
“I decided to turn this place back into a steak and seafood restaurant into the kind of place Devonport deserves so that it’s once more where people can come to celebrate with friends and family to create memories that last a lifetime.”
Mr Smith said he has not given up his acting dream. He’s put it on hold.
“I’m going to come back to the place I know very well to do this,” he said.
Mr Smith worked there as a kitchen hand when the restaurant was the Mallee Grill, and he was just 15.
He did his chef’s apprenticeship at Sharkies Restaurant before he worked at Dannebrog’s as a manager. At 21 he bought the Indian Affair restaurant from businessman Selan Nair.
“I know that career and I know that corner of Devonport,” Mr Smith said.
Mr Smith said he aims to open Prem’s Seafood Bar and Grill in March.
“The restaurant is operational, but we want to redesign the place. I decided to do it quickly within 24 hours after I flew home to Sydney and talked about it to my partner we decided to move back to set up this business, and bring what I have learned over the last eight years living in Sydney,” he said.
“We’re creating a beer garden for people to enjoy, and inside the restaurant we want it to be a green space like a botanical garden.
“At the end of the day, there’s a beautiful building where people have come to celebrate birthdays, first dates, and anniversaries and we want to bring it back for Devonport.
“It’s going to be a place for the community.”
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