Woodland House, the Prahran fine dining restaurant that began five years ago with acclaimed chef Jacques Reymond passing the baton to his two understudies, has closed.
Owner-chefs Hayden McFarland and Thomas Woods called time on their two-hatted restaurant Woodland House on July 10, appointing liquidators Worrells.
"We held out as long as we could, hoping for a magic wand to be waved at us, but we couldn't carry on," says McFarland, citing a downturn in corporate function bookings as the reason for its closure.
"We just weren't seeing the numbers through the doors in the function room upstairs."
The restaurant's end came quickly, says McFarland, with the pair deciding a week ago to close before debts mounted. "We've done our absolute best to ensure our small suppliers got paid."
The pair announced the closure on Instagram on Thursday afternoon, after having spent the afternoon phoning 300 people to let them know their meal reservations had been cancelled.
McFarland and Woods opened the restaurant in 2014 after buying out their mentor, Jacques Reymond.
The grand gold rush-era property had been home to Reymond's eponymous restaurant for 23 years.
McFarland says the closure of Woodland House is not a sign of the death of fine dining. "But maybe people don't want to do it in a 120-year-old mansion."
Matthew Kucianski of Worrells Solvency & Forensic Accountants says, "We are seeing increasing pressures in the hospitality space and the stresses felt by Woodland House are not unique."
A spokeperson for the Reymond family, which still owns the property, says: "Jacques and Kathy are supportive of anyone with a vision who wants to do something amazing."