Anyone looking for a plate of scallop silk or puffed beef tendons on Crown Street in Sydney this week will be in for a shock: Master has closed its doors.
Opening just late last year, the ambitious Chinese restaurant overtook a space in a pocket of residential housing, one of the few on otherwise restaurant-friendly Crown Street. Though the team knew it when signing the lease, the strict residential zoning laws requiring every diner to be out the door by 10pm, even on a pumping Saturday night, eventually became too difficult to maintain.
"Turning away groups of hungry diners at 8.30pm because we just couldn't seat them and see them out before 10pm was just too tough on the business," says co-owner Jarred Roker. "It's super-frustrating, so we thought we'd do the right thing and shut the doors."
The aim is to relocate the restaurant to a new venue, says Roker, who, along with chef John Javier (and seemingly everyone else in Sydney), has his sights set on the city's CBD. There's nothing locked in yet, but they have a few sites in mind.
"Master's not dead," Roker says. "It's just sitting down until we can open it in a better position. John and I love working together and we're not stopping at this; there's so much for us to do. We've got many, many ideas. We've never had investors; we scrounged every penny we had to open the doors, so we want to do it right."
Watch this space for news on the restaurant's reopening.