Israeli chef Michael Rantissi will close Kepos & Co next month after seven years of vibrant breakfasts, lunches and dinners in the Danks Street space. The lease on the restaurant is due to end and, as Rantissi explains, the toll the pandemic has taken on hospitality was front of mind in his decision.
"The last two years have been too much up and down. Going for another seven years of ups and downs, it's too chaotic," he said.
Sister venue Kepos Street Kitchen in Redfern will remain open and the downsizing will allow Rantissi to focus on the original, as well as some new irons in the fire.
The catering and retail arms of the business will soon get a dedicated commercial kitchen in Rosebery. During lockdown, Kepos won many fans with its mix of takeaway mezze, finish-at-home options such as chermoula roast chook, and deli goods to jazz up home cooking.
Rantissi hopes to have the new kitchen open by June and hints there will also be "some form of dine-in but not in the form of a restaurant".
The Kepos presence at Carriageworks Farmers Market may also be dialled up, with the potential to trade at other farmers' markets around Sydney.
As for a new restaurant, Rantissi will never say never. But Melbourne may be the next place he plants the flag, with talk of a project sometime in 2023.
"It's an exciting year I think," he says. "Sad in one form and exciting in a lot of other ways."
Together, Kepos Street Kitchen and Kepos & Co have left a tahini-soaked mark on Sydney dining, combining the generosity, history and cosmopolitanism of the Middle East and North Africa and translating that to an Australian setting. Where Kitchen was small, humble and a cafe at heart, Co brought a formality to Rantissi's food, underscored by a farther-reaching menu of wood-fired dishes.
Kepos & Co will continue to trade for dinner five nights a week until it closes on February 19.
Shop 5, Casba, 18 Danks Street, Waterloo, 02 9690 0931, keposandco.com.au