Prahran restaurant Golda has announced it is closing this month, drawing to an end a short but sweet chapter for fans of vibrant Middle Eastern cooking in Melbourne.
With their Commercial Road lease up for renewal, co-owners Adam Faigen and Rotem Papo had to make a call on committing to another five years on the restaurant. For Faigen, a hospitality entrepreneur with 20 years’ experience, the uncertainty for the industry while the pandemic continues to play out was too much.
“Golda is a solid business but in this climate there’s no certainty of revenue and income. My decision to shut is because I need to move into a new career,” he says.
Papo, Golda’s chef, agrees. “It was just really hard for us to trade consistently and put some financials behind us, and feel confident about where the business is going.”
Both partners said the business is solvent, but Faigen needs more income security than what restaurants can offer right now. He is leaving hospitality to pursue a career in real estate and property development.
The Israeli-born Papo would like Golda to continue, but is not in a financial position to back the business solo. He hopes to revive Golda with another partner if the right opportunity comes along.
“This is my heart and soul. This is my food. It’s my baby. It’s like sitting at my family’s Shabbat dinner but bringing it into Melbourne in more of a modern way.”
He and Faigen have run the business during one of the most difficult periods for restaurants, opening in May 2020 and cycling through five lockdowns that saw them create weekly playlists and takeaway boxes and even open a street-food business, Chik Chak, in Ripponlea.
The restaurant received positive press as soon as it opened, with Good Food critic Gemima Cody impressed by the fusing of family recipes with Papo’s experience from Bar Lourinha and L’Hotel Gitan, supported by warm, intimate service. But successive lockdowns prevented Golda from building momentum off the back of such press, says Faigen.
The pair informed their staff on Tuesday March 2nd.
“I said to my team: we walk out with our heads held high,” says Faigen. “We did something special. It might not have lasted long, but we’re really proud.”
Golda’s last service is Saturday March 19.
Open Wed-Sat 5.45pm-10pm
162 Commercial Road, Prahran, goldarestaurant.com.au