Restaurant closes for dinner, punters book it out
A much-loved Wellington restaurant is dropping its dinner service to give the owners more family time.
In response, punters have booked out all remaining evening sittings at The Larder in Miramar.
"It's been very flattering and overwhelming," says chef Jacob Brown, who runs the restaurant with his wife Sarah Bullock, the maitre'd.
"Some people are a little bit upset with us as well, which is also kind of flattering. We have crept into their lives. It's a very emotional time for us."
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The couple had been considering cutting back their hours for some time, but struggled to choose the "right time" to make the change.
"We'd never been able to justify it because we were so busy at nights," says Brown. "We reached a point where we realised we might always be busy at nights."
Last year The Larder was awarded Two Hats in the Cuisine Good Food Awards and Bullock was named Restaurant Personality of the Year.
The couple have three sons aged between 9 and 13.
"As our kids get older we realised they actually needed us there more," says Brown. "Boys are not the best communicators and you never know when those moments are going to be when they want to talk."
For the past 28 years Brown has worked four nights a week. "I don't think I have been to one children's sports game in the past 10 years, and you think what is the point of it all? We decided to have children, so if we're going to be parents we have a responsibility to be the best parents we can be."
They have had an enthusiastic reaction from others in the hospitality industry, which is notorious for its long hours and for being tough on family life.
"We had two restauranteurs in here last night and they said, 'This is great. We can't keep doing these 70-hour weeks. We need someone to be a pioneer'."
Brown's dentist heard about the change and went home and told his wife he needed to work less too.
Brown says he is excited about experimenting with the lunch and breakfast menus, and planning the occasional "pop-up" dinner.
"Don't worry, we're not going to cut you off completely from dinner! I have already started fermenting some ideas."