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'Unsustainable to continue' — Covid-19 forces renowned Auckland bistro to shut down

The owners and founders of award-winning O'Connell Street Bistro in Auckland's CBD have this morning announced the eatery will close after 24 years, saying it is "unsustainable" to stay afloat amid the pandemic.

Auckland's O'Connell Street Bistro. Source: Google Maps

Chris Upton and Amanda Mason said the insecurity of Covid-19 and being unable to successfully renegotiate their lease were the reasons behind the decision to close their doors.

Like many others struggling in the hospitality industry, they had to continue paying fixed costs that occur throughout successive Covid-19 alert levels.

"With the continuing lockdowns and the challenges of operating at Level 2 in the first two months of 2021, and with no clear respite ahead, it is unsustainable to continue," Upton said.

However, he added that they may look to another venture in future years.

"While the bistro has been our life's work for close to a quarter of a century, we have never thought of it as simply ours. It belongs to every one of our fabulous patrons who have supported us and enjoyed our hospitality.

"We have enjoyed one hell of a wonderful ride and our heartfelt thanks go out to all of our guests who have made the bistro part of their life.

"For us, it has always been about offering outstanding cuisine, brilliant service, a cosy relaxed ambiance and, of course, all that memorable wine."

The renowned bistro has been awarded with many accolades over the years, including being cited as one of the top 42 places in the world to visit (Vanity Fair, April 2007) and the award of excellence from the prestigious New York Wine Spectator magazine from 2001-2016.

But the couple said they will now focus on supporting their team and delivering an exceptional experience to guests for the next four weeks of service.

O'Connell Street Bistro will close its doors after a final dinner service on April 16.