Justin Hemmes to continue legacy of The Whale Inn and Restaurant

Justin Hemmes' Merivale group has confirmed the purchase of Narooma's boutique hotel and restaurant, The Whale.

The purchase follows that of The Quarterdeck, which was Mr Hemmes' first acquisition outside Sydney, announced in March.

Since then, the billionaire's buying spree has made headlines as he continued to pick up venues across NSW and Victoria.

Justin Hemmes and Merivale's executive chef Jordan Toft on the beach at Narooma.

Justin Hemmes and Merivale's executive chef Jordan Toft on the beach at Narooma.

Mr Hemmes was tight-lipped with plans for the two Narooma businesses, which had the community curious.

Refurbishment plans for The Whale will "be announced in due course" after Merivale receives the keys next week.

Accommodation will remain open, while the restaurant will close for a quick refresh, before opening again next month.

For the past 15 years, the late Matthew Deveson OAM and his wife Jen devoted themselves to the business, introducing the slow-food movement and championing local produce.

Only recently, Mr Deveson lost his battle with cancer. Mr Hemmes assured his legacy would continue.

"Matt was a true gentleman; a man of great kindness and dignity who truly loved Narooma and the wonderful people who call it home," Mr Hemmes said.

"It is an honour for us to continue Matt and Jen's legacy."

Narooma Chamber of Commerce and Tourism president, Dr Jenny Munro, said it was a timely purchase and the business community welcomed Mr Hemmes.

"After bushfires, COVID and Matt's untimely death, I think this is a real blessing," she said.

"I think he will be doing some wonderful changes and I believe he will be respectful for what the community stands for.

"Merivale will have the resources to do something special. I have seen what they did with Newport Arms Hotel, transforming it from a grotty place to something so beautiful."

However, Ms Munro said some members of the community still frowned upon change.

"Whether we like it or not - the coast has been discovered," she said.

Mr Hemmes is no stranger to Narooma. He holidays at his Glasshouse Rocks estate when he can.

"Narooma has become my second home and the backdrop to so many of my happiest memories with my family," he said.

"I think it is one of the most beautiful spots in the world."

The Whale's chef Matt Hoar, understood a new chef was coming to lead the kitchen. He felt nervous and slightly apprehensive after his demotion to sous-chef.

"I am uncertain about what to expect, they haven't told us what's going to happen. I am waiting to know," he said.

However, meeting the Merivale team, Mr Hoar was optimistic.

"They were really nice people, Justin seems like a good bloke and they were all very interested in food and the dining experience," he said.

"I don't think anything will go backwards."

During Mr Hoar's eight years at the Whale, he worked on creating a menu with Mr Deveson that "let ingredients speak for themselves".

From oysters and abalone to veggies and honey, Mr Hoar said everything was sourced locally from the Eurobodalla region.

Mr Hoar looked forward to working with the new chef and hoped to keep evolving his relationship with "low-mile food", supporting local growers and producers.

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