In another blow to Sydney's dining scene, Potts Point restaurant Paper Bird has announced it will shut. Its final service will be on Saturday August 3.
Paper Bird is known for its creative riffs on Korean and Japanese dishes, and had many loyal patrons. It was opened in 2017 by chefs Ben Sears and Eun Hee An, along with fellow co-owner Ned Brooks, who took care of the floor and the drinks (he is no longer at Paper Bird). Bourke Street Bakery founders Paul Allam and David McGuinness were also involved, with the eatery taking over their former bunker-like bakery site just off Macleay Street.
Brooks, Sears and Hee An had already made a name for themselves at Redfern’s Moon Park (which closed in 2016), introducing diners to exciting and innovative dishes not often seen or served in Sydney, such as Korean- and Japanese-dishes made with ingredients not widely found at the time.
“Yeah, it’s unfortunate,” says Sears over the phone to Broadsheet. “It’s been a while we’ve had to come to terms with it and it’s not something you come to lightly. I think it’s a hard time in Sydney at the moment. Even beyond us, there have been a number of high-profile restaurants closing.”
He’s right. This news comes after a number of other high-profile Sydney restaurants have also called it a day. Last week Newtown fine diner Oscillate Wildly announced it will shut on August 31. Fellow Potts Point restaurant The Fish Shop, Cake Wines cellar door in Redfern and Malaysian eatery Chinta Ria have all closed in the past 10 days. Nearby ACME will shut this week, and Billy Kwong and Longrain are also closing soon.
“I think you don’t just have a bad month and close a restaurant – it’s cumulative,” says Sears. “The busiest time, that peak period of the year [for restaurants], is shorter now, and the quieter period is longer. There is market saturation. Just look at Potts Point – there are six or seven really good restaurants just on Macleay Street. Even with opening a restaurant, you used to get a busy year, but you don’t any more, people go onto the next thing.”
Sears says he’s not sure what the team will do next, but says, “We’re just focused on getting through the next few weeks. Paying some people back is the main focus.”
A number of the signature dishes will be brought back between now and closing, including the original fried chicken the team first made at Moon Park. It gets its super-crunch from being brined in shrimp paste first and then being flash fried using two different temperatures. The grandma pancake is also likely to pop up.
The site will not remain empty for a while. Like deja vu, Bourke Street Bakery will reopen in the bunker space, serving its lamb sausage rolls, ginger brûlée tarts and sourdough loaves during the day. McGuinness told Broadsheet is has plants to open a restaurant-style eatery Thursday to Saturday nights.
“A lot of restaurants in that area have closed recently, and from what I’ve been told they’ve got lines out the door on Friday and Saturday nights, but on weekdays there’s nobody around.”
Although details are still being worked out, he says it'll like serve food like great venison pies. “Bakery food, but elevated.”
Paper Bird will have its last service on Saturday August 3. Bourke Street Bakery is slated to re-open at 46a Macleay Street, Potts Point in mid to late August.
This article was updated on Friday August 2.