A new city precinct will bring together some of the city fringe’s most-loved eateries alongside art installations and music events to create a microcosm of all that’s great about Melbourne in the heart of the CBD.http://www.stevecafeandcuisine.com/ ELLA, where Elizabeth meets La Trobe, will open its doors on Thursday 9 May, welcoming a host of new cafes including: Colours Bowls, the latest offshoot of South Yarra’s hatted restaurant, Atlas; Sam Sam where it’s all about deep-fried Korean chicken; Son in Law The Pad, a new concept by Collingwood’s popular Thai eatery; and Pick a Stick Chinese Skewers by the team at Dainty Sichuan. Existing Nepalese restaurant, Chilli Everest and ever-popular Ajisen Ramen will reopen with a brand-new look as part of ELLA’s launch. Collingwood-based hospitality hub, Worksmith, will open the doors to its second coworking space here, complete with first-in-Australia high-tech facilities available for communal use including an on-premise drinks lab and a space for events and pop-ups.

ELLA’s Development Manager, Stuart MacLeod-Smith, said while the combination of so many Melbourne dining destinations and the development hub will place ELLA firmly at the centre of the city’s hospitality scene, food is just part of what the precinct will offer. “We know Melburnians love food, but we’re also mad about music and art, we’re pretty innovative when it comes to technology and we enjoy continued opportunities to learn. We’re planning to tap into these elements to elevate and enhance the ELLA experience.”

“We want the space to be an intimate place for residents and visitors to meet and enjoy Melbourne life away from the hustle and bustle of the CBD streets, while still being surrounded by the attributes that make this city so fantastic.” With this in mind, the precinct has been acoustically treated so that both live and recorded music can be enjoyed. Live music will pop-up several times per week, showcasing both emerging and established artists, and a curated soundtrack will feature tunes by local Melbourne artists.

Tech platform, crowdDJ will enable visitors to select their favourite tunes from their mobile device and even vote for a genre of the week – it might be 80s v 90s, Northside v Southside, Bollywood v K-Pop – via an in-built kiosk. ELLA staff will have the chance to curate their own Tastemaker Playlists – with new selections uploaded monthly.

Staying true to Melbourne’s love of street art, there will also be a mural wall that local artists will keep refreshed. A sense of discovery will be needed to locate other works of art, as they’ll be in less likely places such as on café doors and high on ceilings, tapping into the hide-and-seek nature of Melbourne city.

To make dining at ELLA as convenient as possible, a chatbot will be accessible via Facebook Messenger and WeChat for easy ordering and payment whether dining-in or taking-away. The chatbot will also be able to answer questions and provide useful and interesting information about what’s happening in ELLA.

Further openings will continue as the year progresses, with purveyors of wine, beer and cider, Blackheart & Sparrows and artisan producers from Daylesford, The Fermentary set to launch as part of phase two on 27 June. Upscale cocktail bar by globally-renowned Luke Whearty, Byrdi, will open its doors in late July. The final slew of retailers is currently slated to open in November.

Covering 2,500 square metres, ELLA takes its inspiration from the high-end offerings found in Asia’s train stations.

ELLA will be located at the corner of Elizabeth Street and La Trobe Street and is the latest precinct by GPT Group – the developers behind next-door Melbourne Central.