After 20,000 cancellations, Neil Perry prepares for the dinner scramble


As soon as his online system went live at noon yesterday, he received several thousand reservations.

“We can even open the week before, but we won’t know for about a week,” explains the chef and restaurateur.

“It’s not Freedom Day yet, but it’s a step towards opening up the economy safely.”

It’s a similar story to a’Mare, Alessandro Pavoni’s sprawling indoor-outdoor Italian restaurant at Crown Barangaroo.

“I feel like I’m opening a new restaurant again,” Pavoni says of his customers’ rush to book tables from a’Mare’s relaunch date of November 1.

“We’re seeing strong demand until Christmas,” he says. “The Melbourne Cup is huge and some people are making multiple reservations.”

“Nobody asks about our security protocols, they don’t even ask to be seated outside. They don’t care where they sit – they just want to go out to dinner again. “

Following his 20-minute black dinner at the sold-out Glass Brasserie in 20 minutes, Chef Luke Mangan announced a second, with a “third and fourth” to follow soon.

Each fixed-price $ 200 event will see 140 guests celebrate the reopening of the CBD hotel restaurant.

“The second dinner is also almost sold out,” says Mangan, who is in talks with the Sydney council to open a 20-seat outdoor dining area on the ground floor “as soon as we can”.

Other top operators gearing up for a restaurant scramble include Fink Group, whose Quay, Bennelong, Otto and Firedoor restaurants are slated to reopen on October 27.

Fink Group chief executive Jeremy Courmadias has said he hopes more clarity on the NSW government’s public health order will allow the group’s restaurants to open “even more”, both in terms of available tables and reopening date.

“It’s great that so many of our services are already booked, but we could potentially open earlier if we had more clarity on the vaccination requirements for our staff and guests,” he says.

“At the moment, until we have the instructions from the public health order, we cannot even write a basic list for our staff.”

Last weekend, Matt Moran’s Aria became one of the first high-end restaurants to announce a reopening date – October 18 – and invite reservations “from fully vaccinated guests.”

A spokesperson for the restaurant said reservations were coming in “en masse and quickly.”

It’s a different story in Melbourne, where lack of clarity on a 6.0 lockdown end date pushes many restaurateurs to the brink of despair.

“Watching Sydney do the right thing and get ready to open only adds to the anguish of restaurateurs here,” said Chris Lucas of the Lucas Group, which has restaurants in both cities.

“What we all hope is to discover this Sunday [when Premier Daniel Andrews is due to make an announcement on the easing of restrictions] that our government has a plan that mirrors that of Sydney in terms of reception framework.

“If it’s good enough for Sydney to open up when they see 1,500 cases a day, well, given that we’re way behind that, Melbourne really should have opened up now.”

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