Neild Avenue may have spluttered to an unspectacular closure, but speculation about the future of the Rushcutters Bay restaurant is anything but beige.
The giant Keystone Group has been coy about its involvement with the site, but behind the scenes Keystone's plans to reboot it with a new name and concept are advanced.
Recently departed Longrain chef Martin Boetz is involved but won't be cooking Thai food. Rumours of a clause in his departing agreement with Longrain requiring him to give Thai a wide berth for a specified period aren't true, yet Boetz is quietly planning a northern European menu for the venue. There could be touches of his Thai cooking past but caramelised pork knuckle with five spice sauerkraut doesn't sound Boetz's style.
Keystone is rapidly expanding, so the recent spotting of its senior team touring North Bondi Italian Food is par for the course.
North Bondi's co-owner Robert Marchetti has already jettisoned Neild Avenue and earlier this month his Melbourne restaurant Giuseppe, Arnaldo & Sons closed.
Staff morale at North Bondi Italian Food has taken a hit and some suppliers are understandably nervous given recent contraction across the group.