Melbourne's top restaurants close doors to weather coronavirus pandemic storm

Chef Shane Delia in his newest venue, Maha Bar in Collingwood, which will temporarily close.
Chef Shane Delia in his newest venue, Maha Bar in Collingwood, which will temporarily close. Photo: Luis Enrique Ascui

The hospitality industry is working at lightning speed to transform business models and offer take away and home delivery services now that dining out has now been banned. But some operators, including Shane Delia, who owns the Maha Group, Teage Ezard (Gingerboy and fine diner, Ezard)have instead decided to close, and ride out the coronavirus pandemic.

Delia shuttered flagship Maha in the CBD, Maha East in Windsor and Maha Bar, which recently opened to critical acclaim, after service on March 21. 

"Hospitality is a passionate, emotional business and sometimes we make irrational decisions based on that. Our goal has always been to look after our customers and our staff and while I'm up for the fight, this is a massacre," Delia says of the decision to close.

Delia says that instead of trying to offer home delivery, a venture he found unfruitful in five years of operating kebab shop Biggie Smalls through UberEats, he has paid his suppliers and staff, and all will lie low to save energy for a hopeful return.

Teage Ezard's institutions, Ezard and Gingerboy, held their final services on Saturday and do not have a timeframe to reopen. Uncle restaurant in the CBD, Longsong, and Matteo's in Fitzroy North have also gone on hiatus. 

Jerry Mai, who owns Bia Hoi and Annam, is holding a final firesale on ready-made meals today, March 24, before closing both shops indefinitely. BYO takeaway containers, and fill with freezer-friendly pho, and curries. 

Hundreds of hospitality workers had been let go before Sunday's announcement of the closure of all non-essential businesses. Many operators, though devastated and deeply uncertain whether relief packages will sustain them and their displaced staff to be able to reopen, some are also realising how close to the front line they are as servers. 

Says Delia: "This isn't the fight, this is just the bloodshed. We need to have the energy to fight when we return."