The Matriarch: Brisbane restaurant and bar shutting down

A popular bar and restaurant in Brisbane is closing due to financial pressures following the covid pandemic.

The Matriarch, based in the riverside suburb of Newstead, announced in a social media post on Monday evening that it was closing.

“After an incredible and difficult five years, we have decided to cease trading after Sunday 9 June,” the French-inspired venue said.

“The past five years have been an experience we will never forget, but Covid took a lot of fighting and the current financial crisis is one fight too many.

“It is with a heavy heart that we have decided not to renew the lease and to close the business. We thank you for your continued support and wish you all the best.”

The restaurant urged diners to make reservations before closing, adding that they were “happy to say goodbye one last time.”

In a conversation with Courier mailMathew Dewacht – chef and co-owner of The Matriarch – explained that revenue had “dried up”.

“We’re not forced to close, we’ve just decided if we can’t mentally fight through what is essentially a new covid, another economic crisis,” Mr Dewacht said.

“It feels exactly the same as Covid. Revenue dried up, customers did not come.

“A level of attrition that is not worth fighting for again, leaving without being forced to like some of the other companies that are going bankrupt.

“All companies suffered a lot during the covid and we decided that we will be able to invest again when we get over the covid. But the investment is not worth it in the new economy.”

Mr Dewacht said the company’s labor costs were “enormous”.

“I don’t think people are paying attention to the penalties,” he said.

“The minimum wage could be $24. And on Saturday $40 (for someone who works casual and delivers coffees to tables).

“When (our) main store is on weekends, it’s a big expense. Our labor costs account for 35 percent of our costs.

“The government needs to focus more on small businesses and be fair across the board. We have one restaurant and we pay more labor costs than some of the big boys.”

He revealed that the owners of The Matriarch decided to sell a year ago, but could not find a buyer. Hence the decision to close.

A flood of customers expressed their sadness in response to the company’s announcement.

“Sad news. Good luck in the future,” said Karen Flynn.

“I am sorry for this news. All the best for your next chapter,” said Mary-Ann Strelow.

“One of the best places I’ve been for dinner and afternoon tea. So sad to see you go, but all the best,” wrote Cathy Griffin.

“Oh, so sad. I spent my fiftieth there, such a wonderful night. I wish you all the best,” said Caroline Ritchie.

“This is so sad. It is a wonderful institution,” said Cynthia Lim.

Many patrons recalled their happy experiences at the venue.

“I think I’ve celebrated my birthday with you many times and (experienced) at least two or three fantastic Christmas afternoons,” said Maria Louise.

“Thank you for all the wonderful food and celebrations over the years. You were a breath of fresh air in Brisbane and that’s why we kept coming back.

“All the best to all the staff and crew. There are still people who, despite everything, still try to support a local business. Thank you.”

“I am so sad to hear this,” said Mary St Ledger.

“I have only come to your wonderful restaurant once. I’ve wanted to come so many times and I’d really like to come before you close, but I have a broken ankle.

“Very sad to see you go. Best wishes for your future.”

“What a shame you are closing,” wrote Sue James.

“You saved us and we had a wonderful bridal shower with you for my daughter when the Kookaburra Queen went out of business.

“Great memories of the day.”

“I had my bridal shower here and it was absolutely beautiful. It’s so sad to see it close,” added Tara George.

Rebecca Bradley, however, managed to add a touch of levity to the sad mood: “Any chance we can share the coronation chicken sandwich recipe?”

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