There’s a restaurant at the end of my street called One Penny Red, which sits inside a beautiful old building that used to be the Summer Hill post office. Today, co-founders Nina Alidenes, David Murphy and chef RJ Lines announced they were calling time on OPR after nearly 10 years; its last polished service will be on New Year’s Eve.
Me and everyone else in the Summer Hill community Facebook page is understandably shell-shocked. But Alidenes says the decision felt like the right one, after the landlord – a friend of the business – decided to sell the building.
“We are spinning. It happened so quickly,” Alidenes tells me. “We could have had another 15 years here, but when [the landlord] told me he was thinking of selling we just sort of decided, what if we go too?”
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One Penny Red was the place in Summer Hill for a long Sunday lunch, date night or special occasion meal. Its spanner crab sourdough crumpets, Yoder-smoked beef short-rib and progressive wine list were the stuff of multiple awards. Alidenes says the community outpouring has been monumental since the announcement was made this morning.
“I’ve had to step away from my computer. My phone is going nuts, Instagram is going nuts, Facebook is going nuts. There are messages coming from everywhere.”
The grand corner building – which was built in 1901 – is currently up for sale, but Alidenes is hopeful another restaurateur will take over next year.
Until then, her acclaimed diner (and its upstairs cocktail bar Vernon’s) will continue its monthly line-up of events, including its popular BYO “raid your cellar” dinners and the monthly wine club. It’s also opening Monday nights for the rest of the year to give locals a chance to say goodbye.
“I feel like I’m a part of Summer Hill. And now I’m stepping out, it definitely feels weird. I think after I go I’ll have to leave Summer Hill for a little while. Although I’m sure the IGA will draw me back.”
From a local’s perspective, the loss is huge. My partner and I celebrated our move to the area there, and an anniversary. I took my mum there for lunch on her birthday. In the depths of Sydney’s second lockdown, we used to stroll down for takeaway burgers (some of Sydney’s best in my opinion) and bottled Margaritas to take the sting out of a shitty situation.
Who will take the sting out now? Summer Hill has some great options – but I’ll really miss this one.
One Penny Red’s final service is New Year’s Eve 2023.