Seminal Sydney restaurant Longrain will shut its doors on June 30, calling time on the Surry Hills eat streets it pioneered.
When Longrain opened nearly 20 years ago, postcode 2010 was short on good restaurants let alone examples punching out a modern take on Asian/Thai food with grand, sweeping design.
Longrain's sculptural feature wall and ping-pong-wide communal tables in a gritty industrial setting have been copied both in Australia and overseas. Its menu was mimicked and the trickle of restaurants on once sleepy Commonwealth Street has turned to a flood in recent years as Chin Chin and Poly piled in.
Owner Sam Christie is proud of Longrain's impact – which has spawned successful Melbourne and Tokyo offshoots that will stay open – but has decided not to renew its lease.
While Longrain's legacy is set, Christie's memories steer towards its more testing moments, like the night a bikie gang decided to pop in. Or the wedding in the early noughties when the floor collapsed.
Christie is looking to rebirth Longrain elsewhere in Sydney. He's toured the Billy Kwong site but says it won't be Longrain's new home. He says the next location will be smaller than the present restaurant. "Perhaps in the city, maybe Darlinghurst," he says.