With The Star shaking up its F&B, Crown has brought in a new face, Nicholas Kurban. He shares with venue his plans to make Crown the toast of the world, not just Australia.
STORY: MARK DAVIE
icholas Kurban arrived in Melbourne food culture here, the cafes, how much Melburnians only five weeks ago, and already he's love to go out and eat, as well as the fresh produce. willing to be quizzed about his new It's good to be in this kind of city. It will take a while hometown. He's here to replace Walter for me to get around and know everyone, but overall Wagner, the heavyweight food and bevI feel very fortunate to be a part of Crown. erage doyen who helped Crown Melbourne eas- venue: How much of your job relies on your know\ily ascend to the top of the Australian casino heap. edge of Melbourne? Wagner's strengths were in detail - scouring China NK: I'm very familiar with how the casino, and food for items that would bring luck to his tea-swilling, and beverage business works. That's what I've done Sho Noodle Bar patrons; clout-he was able to lure for the last 15 years-plus. I don't know a lot about the likes of Neil Perry, twice, when the chef's home- Melbourne, but I'm eager to learn a lot about it. It's town casino couldn't get him at all; and balance important to get to know the city, what the trends even ruffling a few Zampelis feathers to get the right are here, and what works. Not everything that works tenant mix of elegance and affordability. in The States, or Europe will work here. But there They are big shoes for Nicholas Kurban to fill . Crown are similarities in the trends. ' Melbourne has long stood as the premier casino in venue: What are some of those casino trends? Asia Pacific, but like any major resort, without the NK: Growth in bars has been very important. Also, right investment it can become a sitting duck. Kur- people are very knowledgeable about food. Local caban isn't that worried about Crown's position in the fes and restaurants are definitely in a much better region though; he's focused more on its ascendancy place then they were 15 years ago. People used to to the top, the very top. It's hard to imagine an Aus- 路 go to a major city to find the best, it's not the same anymore. We have to up the game, we .have to be as sie casino eclipsing the major centres of Las Vegas, Atlantic City, or even Macau, but Kurban thinks the competitive, and as good, if not better than what's mix is already on its way. With the casino floor ef- around the neighbourhood. When you come to fectively doubled over the last year, and a whole new Crown you should expect the best restaurants, the precinct at Crown's West End designed to liven up best bars, the best music, the best decor, the best the resort, the only things Kurban points out that service. are missing is a superclub presence and some tapas venue: What is your appraisal of Crown at the moment? to share. Kurban was previously Vice Presicl'e ht cif F&B and NK: Crown wasn't waiting for me to come in. Retail at Borgata Hotel Casino &Spa, as well as Di- The senior leadership identified a lot of areas that rector of Fine Dining Operations at Wynn Resorts, needed investment. If you look at the West End aland before both of those, he was Director of Res- lotment, there's been $100m invested in bars and taurant Operations for the dual three Michelin star clubs, gaming and dining, all in a tightly knit, seamchef Thomas Keller's restaurant group. It's quite are- less precinct. It's a completely new offering for our sume, and shows he has the breadth of experience to guests- outdoor areas, something for everyone day bring the world to Crown. and night. There's the Lumia bar and balcony, The Merrywell that opened a month ago, and this month TASTE OF MELBOURNE we have the Cotta cafe, and the Common Room venue: How have you found Melbourne? the sports bar that's opening in a ~ew weeks. These Nicholas Kurban: I've been around the city, and are completely new offerings for Crown that will some nice areas like Port Melbourne and St Kilda. position the West End as a fun, vibrant place where When I came a while ago, I fe!t'it was similar to San people can find exciting new food and beverage, and Francisco. I was surprised to find such an amazing gaming offerin.gs.
Crown's VIP Mahogany Room: This is as close as you're likely to get without your Amex Platinum.