After four years, Carlton North’s Peruvian-Argentinian restaurant, Piqueos, is serving its last empanada. On October 15, the doors will close, with a cocktail bar called Henry Sugar taking its place.
Co-founder – and new father – Shaun Burke ultimately decided that the gruelling demands of hospitality were too much for a young family. “When we first opened, we were open six days a week, and we’d put in 60 to 70 hours easy,” he says. “With a newborn, they change so quickly. My partner can put something up on social media [about my son] and other people can see it before I do.”
South American cuisine – particularly Peruvian food – was tipped as The Next Big Thing in Melbourne in 2015, although it never really took off beyond a handful of restaurants. Burke feels as though Piqueos helped introduce diners to dishes they were unfamiliar with. “We were one of the first South American restaurants, so there wasn’t much to compare it to,” he says. “We always wanted to educate people in such a way that they’d get a South American experience the minute they walked through the door.”
While they’ve rung the bell on Piqueos, it’s almost certainly not the last you’ll hear of Burke and his partners Dave Mills and Paul Goddard. “We want to open a wine bar in a couple of years time,” he says. “I think there’ll be a couple of South American dishes and wines. We’ll definitely have to put a ceviche on the menu to pay homage to that first part of our journey.”