The Gallery restaurant in Palmerston North closing its iron gates
After 16 years of laughter and endless chats with regulars the Gallery cafe and restaurant in Palmerston North is closing.
The family-run business on Church St will close the iron gates permanently on Sunday.
When Niels and Tamsin Van Uffelen left for a new venture in Australia in 2016, Niels' parents Rob and Grietje took over management.
But being in their seventies, it became too hard to juggle and the Van Uffelen family collectively decided it was time to close.
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On the restaurant's Facebook page Rob and Grietje said they "made the very tough decision to close the doors" after much deliberation.
"At our age it was not easy to manage it all.
"There comes a time where you have to do what is right for you," the post read.
Son Lars and his wife Shannon Van Uffelen will still run Van Uffelen Gallery and Picture Framing next door, which is a separate business.
The framing business had been on Princess St since the early 1990s and the restaurant used to be its workshop, Lars said.
Once a new extension was built on behind the framing shop the Gallery cafe and restaurant was born.
The fine-dining restaurant made sense because it catered to a lot of existing customers from the framing shop, Lars said.
It held exhibitions and always had artists' work on display which created a new look for the space every time the artwork was changed.
Over such a long time the family had built relationships with many staff and customers, he said.
"What we're going to miss is probably the clientele. It's what we connect with.
"It's not so much running the business it's the people."
Shannon, Lars' wife, had worked in the kitchen for half a decade when the restaurant first opened and remembered hundreds of weddings, proposals and birthday parties that filled the rooms with joy.
Throughout the years they had used some weird and wonderful ingredients such as brains and kangaroo, she said.
"It gave people the chance to explore and to try new things."
Simultaneously Lars and Shannon said the scallops, coated in breadcrumbs, parmesan and coconut, would be the most missed dish.
"We can't take it off [the menu]," Shannon said.
"We even tried to change the presentation. We tried to take them out of the shells, but people didn't like that."
They had shared many fond moments with staff and customers and that was the sad part of the closure, Shannon said.
Instead of selling the business they had chosen to simply close the restaurant on a high, she said.
The Van Uffelens were not the type to go out with a "big hoo ha", they simply planned to have a quiet drink with staff.
"We just want to peacefully shut the doors."