MOUNT LAWLEY’S Raah restaurant closes this Friday May 31.
Having opened in October 2011, the middle-eastern restaurant joins a slew of recent closures on Beaufort Street in the past year including Ottobrino Butchers, Vintage Tatt, and Antonio’s Continental Deli.
Raah’s owner John Stephenson says high rents were a contributing factor.
He’s planning to go back to working in the environmental sector, but hints his days as a restaurateur might not be over for good.
Most staff are ready to move on with some pursuing studies and the chef heading back to France to sort out a few things.
The restaurant was well-regarded by critics (including the Voice) with the Sunday Times’ Gail Williams rating it a 16/20.
The Beaufort Street Network is currently looking at the problem of handling gentrification and keeping independent stores on the street: Due to the street’s increasing popularity, only bars or large chains can afford the increasingly high rents, and that threatens the vibe that makes the place successful in the first place.
Mr Stephenson hopes the street doesn’t become one long row of bars.
“It’d be a shame if it falls completely to the alcohol industry,” he says.
He’s planning a big send off for the final night this Friday.
“We could have shut our doors and felt sorry for ourselves, but we were proud of what we achieved.
“[Friday is] a chance to clear our stock out and say goodbye and have a laugh.”
He says the street was very welcoming, with other restaurants like the Beaufort Street Merchant being “hugely supportive”.
by DAVID BELL