Hunger and ambition

Written by Michael Appleford

Deemed an 'impossible build', Golden Century's ambitious expansion stood dormant for five years as builder after builder walked away. That is, until they turned to Schiavello.

Golden Century Restaurant Fitout lounge feature ceiling

The challenge

The iconic Sydney restaurant, known for its live seafood tanks as much as its popularity, sought to add a fourth storey while remaining fully operational.

With queues commonplace at all hours of the day and well into the night, the only access point and entryway can be a busy space. Add to this the fact that the existing roof structure could only support a limited load.

From the onset, our team knew that problem-solving and ingenuity would be needed at every step of the project delivery.

golden century sydney restaurant hospitality construction
golden century sydney restaurant hospitality construction scaffolding

Pork dumplings and demolition

Following extensive on-site investigations, our team developed a number of strategies to mitigate the risks and restrictions caused by structural integrity of the roof slab. Most significantly, we built a supported platform designed to disperse the load and allow for a small crane to be set-up on the roof.

To ensure the safety of hungry patrons, a custom gantry was constructed above the footpath and a clear work-zone was established within an adjacent street parking bay. This meant that demolition and construction could occur without shutting down either the restaurant or the Sussex street thoroughfare.

If you’ve ever had the pleasure of dining at Golden Century, you’ll know that the venue is always abuzz. Even so, we were aware that drilling and cutting into a slab wouldn’t be adding to the ambiance, so noisier works were kept to the restaurant’s only downtime – between 6am and 11am.

Throughout the weeks of demolition, our site team and Golden Century management became quite close, often sharing meals together and strategising for the weeks ahead.

golden century sydney restaurant hospitality construction

Structural steel

Upon completion of demolition, a mini crane and custom hoists were used to install structural steel. The challenge then became how subsequent materials would be brought up into the work-zone once walls were up.

Keeping in mind that the only access point was through an entrance shared with patrons, our team came up with an out-of-the-box solution; constructing a hatch within the roof. A feat in itself, the roof hatch that was constructed has since been acknowledged as the largest in the Southern Hemisphere.

At this point, a larger crane and partial road closures were necessary to lift materials through the hatch; including 15 tonnes of steel, 3.5-metre operable walls, industrial kitchen equipment, and cool room panels.

As our permit allowed only a certain number of days for partial road closures, our team implemented strict coordination, communication, and meticulous planning. Deliveries for the weeks ahead all needed to arrive at precise timings while the hatch was open and the road partially closed.

Golden Century Restaurant Fitout waiting feature ceiling lounge

The result: elevating Sydney dining to a new level

Overcoming ‘the impossible’, Golden Century’s highly anticipated built presents a world-class dining experience. The way our team came together was quite progressive, to have major demolition, structural steel, infrastructure, and the installation of a lift shaft from the basement to the third level – all while the restaurant was in full swing.

“Our senior people would often be on-site late at night to solve one of the many challenges that the existing site threw up at us, and our team would often be seen sharing meals with our construction team throughout the course of the project. I’m very proud of the way our team rose to the challenge, to come up with a solution that defined the impossible,” says Schiavello NSW Director and State Manager Christopher Schiavello.

Cardy Lai, Manager of Golden Century, shares this sentiment saying “it was our great pleasure to have Schiavello construct this new level. Their team has been fantastic at working in our premises and co-operating very well throughout a live environment. We have already recommended Schiavello to two of our friends and will continue to do so.”

Despite the construction challenges throughout the project, Golden Century did not once have to consider closure. Ingenuity overcame the impossible, with the new level open and serving lobsters in time for Chinese New year.

Read more on Golden Century here.