As the final dishes were called out from the pass at Master Dining on Sunday evening, cheers erupted from the kitchen and spread through to the dining room upstairs. Friends, family and staff looked on as head chef and co-owner John Javier came down the stairs to say goodbye. The Crown Street favourite, by Javier and business partner Jarred Roker, would be closing its doors for the last time that night.
“It's a really weird feeling closing a restaurant you put all your blood, sweat and tears into,” says Javier. “It's almost indescribable what was going through my head that night, but it was a feeling I hadn't felt since the night we first opened our doors. All our friends were there but none of them knew we were closing until they arrived. There was so much electricity in the room and as bad as the situation was, it felt like there was a massive weight lifted off our shoulders.”
But make no mistake: while the Crown Street haunt may have been put to rest, it does not spell the end of Master. “Council zoning laws meant that we had to see all of our diners out by 10pm, so the site just wasn't working for us,” says Javier. “Waiting four months for the extension of our DA just to get a straight out 'no' really damaged our business. We're going to keep pushing though and come back stronger in the future. Jarred and I believe we've started something truly unique and if anything, this whole process has made us hungrier to do more.”
With rigid council restrictions putting a dampener on an otherwise feted dining room – known for its silken scallops with XO sauce, and burnt cabbage with fish-sauce emulsion – the pair has its sites on Sydney’s CBD. "We're in talks with potential investors about relocating to a bigger and better site in the future. It's definitely not the end for Master. This is only the beginning."