The restaurant industry has been among the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic but one new Springwood venture hopes to buck the trend.
Daniel Cabban will open Arrana restaurant on October 29, presenting a degustation menu with a focus on Australian cuisine and Indigenous ingredients.
The 40-seat restaurant has transformed the former Curves gym in Springwood's Macquarie Arcade into a fine dining oasis.
Despite the show of confidence by opening during the pandemic, Mr Cabban said COVID-19 still had a major impact on plans for the restaurant.
"It actually affected it pretty dramatically," he said. "We were hoping to open in July and then when COVID hit we put everything on the backburner."
The Yellow Rock resident gained his grounding in fine dining at Restaurant Como in Blaxland, where he completed his apprenticeship and worked for six years.
Located in a car park behind Blaxland shops, Como proved you didn't need a high-profile, or picturesque, location to be a success. The Blaxland restaurant was awarded a single hat in the Sydney Morning Herald's Good Food Guide for 10 years, until owners Grant and Rachel Farrant sold the business in 2018.
It's a template Mr Cabban hopes to replicate at Arrana, which also finds itself in a location away from the street front.
"That's what I always liked about Como - it was so secluded but then when you went inside it was like a completely different experience. I don't think there's a lot of restaurants that do that," said the executive chef.
The new venture represents a homecoming of sorts for the former St Columba's High School student, who worked in the fine dining restaurant, Pebble Beach, at the exclusive Qualia Resort on Hamilton Island after leaving Restaurant Como.
The 25-year-old's first industry job was as a "dishie" at Blaxland Thai Restaurant. He later took a detour to study computer science at university only to discover he "loved the idea of cooking more than sitting at a desk".
Mr Cabban hopes Arrana will provide a different dining choice for Mountains residents, as well as visitors to the Blue Mountains. He plans to use locals suppliers for produce and wine, and employ locals.
The restaurant will open on Wednesday nights, and for lunch and dinner from Thursday to Sunday.
While Mr Cabban admits to some nerves as opening night approaches, he is more than eager to tick off one of his 'bucket list' items.
"It's a little bit daunting but very exciting as well," he said. "For me, food is my passion. If I can serve people my idea of good food and if they walk away happy, then I'm happy."
The restaurant opens on October 29.