Prominent Sydney restaurateur Michael McMahon passed away last night after a battle with heart problems.
It’s reported McMahon had undergone several surgeries over the years and was scheduled to receive a heart transplant, however he suffered a heart attack at 7pm on Tuesday night.
“He had battled with his health for many years, but in particular, in the last four years. However he always pulled through, he was very strong,” reads a post on Catalina’s Instagram.
“We remember our Michael as a charismatic and spirited man. He was opinionated, bombastic and generous to a fault.”
McMahon and wife Judy worked at Berowra Waters Inn before purchasing Barrenjoey House in 1983, catapulting the restaurant into the spotlight.
“When the opportunity came up for us to have our own place, we took it — we both felt able to,” Judy told Hospitality in 2018.
The couple ran Barrenjoey House for five years with a young Neil Perry and went on to launch Perry’s in Paddington, too. Both restaurants received two hats.
Judy and Michael later sold the two restaurants in 1988 and worked for Bilson’s until 1994 when they purchased Catalina Rose Bay.
Catalina is one of Sydney’s longest-running fine dining establishments, marking 25 years in business last year.
“Catalina and his family … were his constants, and he remained obsessed with his beautiful creation till his final hours,” continues the Instagram post. “We will all miss him dearly and his spirit and love of live will stay with us always.”
The hospitality community has paid tribute to McMahon, thanking him for his contributions to the industry.
“Thank you for giving a young 25 year old nobody an opportunity of a life time at Barrenjoey House in 1982,” Neil Perry posted on Instagram. “With success at Bilson’s and then the longevity of Catalina, you truly created iconic Australian restaurants.”
Matt Moran said McMahon was a “legend of our industry”.
He was 66 years old.