After opening in Surry Hills four years ago, MoVida will close its doors at the end of this month. This news comes in the wake of two of Sydney’s longstanding restaurants, Marque and Rockpool 1989, announcing their respective closure and evolution.
“It’s simple – it’s not busy enough,” says owner and chef Frank Camorra. “The first couple of years, it was very different. Then it sort of quietened down.”
Although hesitant to draw any conclusions from the swathe of restaurant closures, Camorra noted that for him, and for others, “it’s a combination of reasons. In Sydney, competition is becoming stronger and stronger. There are some amazing places with more and more opening all the time.”
MoVida’s Surry Hills outpost is its only restaurant in Sydney (not counting a bar at the airport). The restaurant had plans to open its MoVida Next Door concept in Martin Place, but negotiations wound up earlier this year. “It was really disappointing [and] unfortunately it didn’t go through, due to no fault of our own,” says Camorra.
In hindsight, Camorra believes the city would have made much more sense for MoVida, not so much to re-create the laneway vibe that has worked so successfully for them in Melbourne, but to better suit the restaurant’s ethos. “MoVida is a place where you can just pop in for a glass of wine and a few tapas or you can have a long meal. I guess the foot traffic in Surry Hills didn’t really allow for that.”
Having invested time and energy to move the operation to “a more sustainable spot with a smaller space”, Camorra says when the location fell through it left little option but to “regroup and concentrate on our Melbourne and international restaurants”. Camorra and the team spent some time looking for another city site but couldn’t find anything that suited.
Reflecting on MoVida’s Sydney stint, Camorra says the best part of the experience was the people. “We’ve had great staff, great customers and suppliers. We had some amazing people work for us.”
MoVida will host its last dinner service on Wednesday June 29.