For the best part of the last decade, Perth has been all about the latest brand spanking new café, bar or restaurant. While this dining boom has been going on, there has been many venues quietly closing their doors.
With recent high profile closings, I realised that about 10% of the spots I’ve dined at in the last 5 years have closed. There’s lots of places that I never even made it to before they closed their doors, like Greenhouse, The Terrace Hotel, Gogos, and The Witches Caldron. I was probably the only person in Perth never to enjoy their garlic prawns!
So why are all the restaurants closing?
Restaurants close all the time. It’s the nature of the dining scene. But what we ‘ve been seeing in the last 18 months are a lot more businesses failing than usual and failing fast.
There is a huge oversupply of restaurants in Perth. There is simply too many seats and not enough bums to fill them. Last year, when the Trustee, Fuyu and Restaurant Amuse closed their doors I thought that there would be a slow-down in new openings, but there’s still a new café, bar or eatery opening every 5 minutes. Hat’s off to these restaurateurs taking a punt – they are very, very brave!
Customers complain about the high price of eating out in Perth. This is a valid reason for people dining at home. If you look carefully there is definitely quality, value for money dining still to be had. Hospitality workers put in the hard yards, particularly the kitchen teams. I’ve seen the blood, sweat and tears, not to mention ridiculous amounts of overtime. They deserve to be paid fairly and well. The margins in any hospitality business are tight. It’s no wonder they have to hike their prices to try to break even, due to sky high rents, wage bills, quality produce and other overheads.
Chefs and other hospitality staff are spread very thin, so staffing issues can easily mess with quality and consistency. Chef often finds it difficult to find good kitchen staff, which is a Perth-wide problem. I know a few restaurant owners that had amazing restaurants, with schmick fit outs, and a really good concept, but just didn’t find enough quality staff to realise their dream.
There’s those restaurants that have renovated or rebranded, those old stalwarts that just didn’t keep up with the times and then the places that were excellent, but couldn’t survive in a climate of fast “Uber Eats” style home dining. The brunch trend is sure to have contributed too, with many people opting to dine and socialise over cheaper, non alcoholic brunches than going out for a more expensive dinner.
Closed Restaurants in Perth
Here’s a nostalgic list of just some of those Perth restaurants gone, but not forgotten. Where do you miss?
1. FuYu, Nedlands A Mod Asian favourite by chef David Coomer is now Lawleys Bakery.
2. Wok St Chow House, Northbridge When I walked by a few months ago the building’s frontage was being demolished and the restaurant, which was also formally Darlings Suppa Club, was closed.
3. Suburban Table, Mosman Park Still run by Chef Josh Prosser, now South East Larder, a modern Asian take away.
4. Barque, East Fremantle the ex-mod Asian spot is now buzzed about Cook and Mason.
5. Celtic Kitchen, Joondalup this casual café didn’t last very long at all, then it morphed into Lemongrass Thai Kitchen. The building is currently up for lease.
6. Stix Bar, Burswood this classy little restaurant was too much of a hidden gem, concealed amongst the apartment blocks between Crown and Optus Stadium. I miss their French Martinis!
7. Pata Negra, Nedlands before FuYu, Chef David Coomer’s Spanish joint was a favourite of ours. Now Lawleys Bakery. David now has his own truffle farm in Manjimup.
8. Chophouse, Perth CBD We loved Chophouse, but it was hit by the mining slump on the terrace, now it’s home to a British gastropub, The Butchers Arms.
9. West at Ku De Ta, East Perth One of the most spectacular implosions in recent times. West and Ku Dining have been closed indefinitely, while The Deck (the more casual bar) is still open. The thing that struck me most about the venue, was the lack of floor to ceiling river views. We really loved the food at West. The cost of parking and ticket clock watching, coupled with a remote location didn’t help it’s cause.
10. Shiro, Perth CBD This tasty Japanese overlooking leafy Central Park has been closed for some time.
11. Mattisse, Scarborough Every time I went to Mattisse it was empty! It was the biggest victim of the Scarborough Beach redevelopment. I think it opened about 4 years too early. Now it’s gone back to it’s pre-millennium roots as the Lookout pop-up bar. Another of the Reid family’s venues, The Breakwater at Hillarys, is on the market.
12. Wild Duck, Nedlands This delicious fine diner which moved to Perth from Albany quietly closed a couple of years ago and is now casual Mexican, Santa Fe.
14. Alphabet Soup, Various This pop up restaurant by one of our favourite Perth Chefs Mellissa Palinkas enjoyed a popular run at cafés all around Perth. Mellissa is now busy co-owner and Head Chef of Young George. Pop up’s come and go, but we particularly loved Alphabet Soup!
16. Cookie Dough Biscuits, East Fremantle This cute as a button café on the George Street strip became Alder & Co. Now known as Ari & Esmay – their High Teas look scrumptious.
17. Yocal, Fremantle was a typical, hippy-chic, eclectic Fro café. Found just off the cappuccino strip, it’s now known as Duck Duck Bruce Café.
18. Hippo Creek, Hillarys Not only did the popular steakhouse close in Hillarys, but also it’s Subiaco and Waterford restaurants. Now it’s home to chain Hurricanes Grill. I miss the massive Assagai meat skewers… drool!
19. Restaurant Amuse, East Perth Perth’s finest fine diner closed it’s doors in 2017. Chef surprised me with a wedding anniversary dinner at Amuse and it was superb. Owner and Head Chef Hadleigh Troy has now opened a café in Vic Park – Hampton and Maley, which I hear is outstanding and I can’t wait to try it!
20. Kustom Cupcakes, Lathlain The decadent cupcake bakery is long gone. I miss their chocolate coated Oreo and Reece’s peanut butter cups.
21. Park & Vine, City Beach At Empire Village, wasn’t around for long. When we dined there, we were the only table, which sadly didn’t make for a very enjoyable atmosphere.
22. The Wine Store, East Fremantle We had a good brunch here years ago, but haven’t made the trip back since it became Young George, co owned by Chef Mellissa Palinkas (previously Head Chef at The Cabin) and a certain Mr Broadfield. Young George looks seriously delicious and has been on our to-try list for far too long.
23. Gooseberries Café, Kensington Now the cosy cottage is home to The Little Banksia and their brunches look as tasty as ever!
26. Ace Pizza, Highgate was a cool lil spot with dark lighting, comfort food and seemed to tick all the boxes. This venue has had a run of bad luck with Ace Pizza becoming the short-lived Rockefeller, maybe Italian eatery “No Menu” can turn this around?
27. Plenty Thai, Perth CBD This casual Asian spot hidden down Shafto Lane was my go-to pre concert spot to grab a cheap n cheerful bite to eat before heading to Perth Arena. Now Fifteen Soi Shafto Thai Bistro.
28. Beluga, Claremont Chef and I loved to dine at Beluga (waaay back in 2013). The classy spot was opened by ex West Coast Eagles Dean Cox and Andrew Embley. Now Miss Chows.
29. Naked Fig, Swanbourne This eclectic spot overlooking Swanbourne Beach closed long ago. Now it’s much more light and bright as Shorehouse, which incidentally, now has different owners (The Kailis Group) from when it first opened.
30. Basq, Currambine. I was SO SAD when I heard this northern suburbs eatery had served it’s last meal. We always enjoyed their quality offering and in my opinion it was one of the only great spots to dine north of Hepburn Avenue. The venue is currently empty.
31. Guylian Belgium Chocolate Café, Perth CBD. This sweet café was only open for about a year, not even enough time to write up my blog about it!
32. Shipping Lane, North Fremantle. This Leighton Beach eatery had the best of both worlds… top notch sushi coupled with a mouth-watering Mod-Aus menu. Now Freemans Restaurant.
What can we do to stop this madness?!
We all have our favourite little independent restaurant or café in Perth. Support them. Forget about the chain steakhouses and cafes. Don’t dine at the “It’s OK” place or “the foods average, but you get heaps for your money” eatery. Book a table at the little guy’s place, the person who is passionate about their offering and serves amazing food! We need these restauranteurs and Chef-Owners to stay in business for the future of Perth’s dining scene.
Something that can be said for the hospitality industry is that it never stands still. It’s a constantly evolving thing, that is changeable to the economy and consumer trends. With so many venues competing for your dining dollar, one thing is for sure, it’s survival of the fittest in Perth right now!
Note – This will be an ever growing list, which I’ll be sure to update.