Fine dining groups shutter in response to shutdown

24 March, 2020 by
Hospitality Magazine

After the government announced a comprehensive, nationwide shutdown of all non-essential businesses from midday on Monday 23 March, fine dining establishments across Sydney – which has been hardest hit by the spread of COVID-19 – made the decision to shut their doors.

Among the list of temporary closures are Fink Group (Quay, Bennelong, Firedoor, Otto Sydney and Brisbane, Beach Byron Bay), Rockpool Dining Group (including Rockpool Bar and Grill, Spice Temple and Sake) and Bentley Group (Bentley, Monopole, Yellow and Cirrus). The Star Sydney has also completely ceased operations for now, with all of venues within closing until further notice.

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Merivale’s Mr Wong will also close, with executive chef Dan Hong saying “To see the industry I love get shutdown overnight is f*cking devastating. We will ride it out and come back even stronger. But for now let’s stay home so we can get back to work as quickly as possible.”

Neil Perry also took to Instagram to share his thoughts, saying “Well, I never thought, after 43 years in the restaurant industry, that this would happen”, before adding “We have to try to stay in touch with each other, we have to reach out to governments to help us through this incredible time, this once in a century time, this once in a lifetime experience we’re going through… But if we stick together it’s going to be amazing. I can’t wait to reopen these restaurants.”

In regional Victoria, Dan Hunter’s Brae will also close for now. Ben Shewry’s Attica, in Melbourne, will continue to operate as a takeaway bake shop in the morning and will offer takeaway meals.

In Adelaide, Jock Zonfrillo’s Orana will close too. The Scottish-born chef lamented the decision, announcing his team will be on paid leave until “the bank account is drained or we can reopen our doors.”

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Hospitality has been my life, it’s heartbreaking watching the industry deteriorate from the top of their game to shutting their doors and as we inevitably move into lockdown so many more are yet to come. Over the last 6 years at Restaurant Orana I’ve watched my team fall in and out of love, buy their first homes, get married, have children, suffer through extreme health issues, and lose parents and children. I’m deeply touched by the support Australians are showing for the hospitality industry and businesses have been doing everything they can to survive. Food boxes and take home meals are a short term fix & gift vouchers can only be spent in a restaurant that exists post this Armageddon, even if they do survive, a gift voucher in the cash register post apocalypse doesn’t help pay the wages as beautiful a gesture as it is. Brilliant initiatives with best intentions but considering the way this has unfolded globally it’s simply short term thinking. Social distancing is proving the key to breaking the back of COVID19, filling our restaurants will only assist in spreading it further amongst our families and communities inevitably extending the pain for an excruciating period of time. Stopping the spread of COVID-19, and paying wages and suppliers in the meantime, are the only way to the other side of this. For us I’m afraid, like many…it’s closing time. We are sending our team on paid annual leave after service tonight, this will inevitably move into unpaid leave. We will however continue to pay our team until the bank account is drained or we can reopen our doors. Restaurant Orana really has been the little restaurant that could. Other than my three children, Restaurant Orana opening, surviving and thriving is without question what I am most proud of in my life. I know we have had impact on Indigenous communities, and whether I have a restaurant at the end of this or not who knows. It is my life’s purpose to stand hand in hand with our Indigenous brothers and sisters acknowledging that their culture is important and the beating heart of Australia. I hope someone hears the hospitality industries call to arms and weighs in. If ever we needed it It’s now

A post shared by Jock Zonfrillo (@zonfrillo) on

Some, such as Chuuka and Momofuku Seiobo in The Star Sydney, made the call earlier, announcing temporary closures on Friday afternoon.

More to come.