“When we (Ingrid and husband/co-owner Sean Kierce) were studying industrial design at RMIT back in the ’90s, we also worked in fine-dining restaurants. Sean worked at Jacques Reymonds while I was at Stephanie’s but we were both at Grossi [Florentino] and the European.
“When we finished uni, Sean worked for a decade in design, mainly furniture and bathroom products, until the first restaurant [Ladro Gertrude] took off 10 years ago. It was beyond all expectation. I’ve managed to continue running my design company and I still have a few interior jobs on the go. After spending seven years running Ladro Gertrude [in Fitzroy], we decided to open Ladro Greville [in Prahran] in 2010. The building used to be the iconic Candy Bar nightclub in the ’80s and ’90s, followed by Greville Bar. When we took over, we had to gut the whole interior and start again.
“The look and feel of the interior was based on a pre-mediaeval house we stayed at in Lazio [Italy] many years ago. It was on the side of a stone hill and it had been burnt many times over the years. That was the inspiration for the dark ceilings and whitewashed walls in Ladro Greville.
“The interior is quite pared back—our philosophy is that life is complicated and busy so it’s nice to enter a space that’s not as confronting or messy. We used a specially mixed colour—70 YY—so the intensity changes depending on the light. I also used a lot of charcoal greys, blacks and warm greys.
“Our interior is totally bespoke; Sean built the first restaurant with his own hands. At Ladro Greville, we designed and made all the fittings—toilet-roll holders, light fittings, furniture, all the tables. The only design pieces we bought were the Thonet dining chairs—they’re so comfortable, you can’t beat them!
“The original walls are all brick but they have either been bagged or painted. The flooring is polished concrete.
“We redesigned the kitchen, using the existing plumbing points to keep the costs down. Sean built the pizza ovens himself. He’s done three of them now and they’re really amazing. We needed special benches in order to get the pizza paddles working in the kitchen, so we installed those too.
“The restaurant seats about 70 with another 20 at the bar. We also have a courtyard that seats another 50 and the bar seats about 18. The courtyard is really popular. The roof is openable so we can serve there in all seasons and all times of the day. And on great nights you can open up the roof and watch the stars.
“We like the idea of having a blank canvas so the food, the wine and the people actually create the picture every night. It’s not about what art is on the walls or anything like that—it’s the people who add the colour when it’s full.”