The owners of an iconic Chinatown restaurant in Sydney have confirmed the “devastating” news the eatery is about to close forever.
Zilver Group’s flagship venue, located in Haymarket, near Central Station, will close its doors for the final time after three decades of service on February 13, a day before Valentine’s Day.
According to a statement posted by the company on its website, the shock exit is “due to the building’s plan for the site’s reconstruction and redevelopment for office space”.
“This decision is irreversible and to depart from the most popular venue after 30 years of glorious and great effort [and] achievement is devastating for us,” the emotional statement continues.
“It is hard to comprehend the owner’s decision to abandon its loyal and long-term tenant – the award-winning restaurant with an iconic image.”
However, the owners compared Zilver’s “continuous and dramatic journey of the heart” to the well-known 14th-Century Chinese history book of the “Three Kingdoms”, declaring the business had an “unfinished story to be continued” and that it would “strive for the best and a better future”.
Zilver first opened its doors in 1993, and is owned by Henry Tang and his wife Chillie after they took over from Mr Tang’s father in the 2000s.
It also provides catering and has a second branch in Bondi Junction Westfield, with another Chinatown eatery, The Eight, also under the Zilver Group’s umbrella.
Over the years, the flagship Haymarket store built up a loyal fan base, with food lovers flocking to the restaurant to sample its Cantonese food – including yum cha feasts.
In 2017, the Bondi restaurant made headlines after a wild brawl broke out during a baby shower a year prior.
A man was charged over the fracas, but claimed he had acted in self defence.
Apart from that one blip, the restaurant has proven to be incredibly popular, attracting long lines of patient diners willing to queue week after week.
News of the abrupt impending closure has stunned Sydneysiders, with many taking to social media to voice their displeasure.
“Man, I hate how Cantonese restaurants are on the decline. This is what I mean by Chinatown’s Cantonese heritage is dying, f***ing office building and apartments,” one person posted on Reddit in response to the news, while another declared it was “another end of an era”.
“So sad, I used to go with my family to city yum chas growing up but nowadays find it easier to meet up at suburban ones – easier parking and find them a little cheaper,” another posted.
Meanwhile, others pointed out there was a “silver lining” – the fact the business was closing due to the landlord’s decision, and not because the business itself was failing.
However, it comes hot on the heels of a string of big-name Chinatown closures in recent years, with Marigold, Golden Century, BBQ King and Regal Restaurant all shuttering.
Kevin Cheng, the co-founder of the Soul of Chinatown community organisation that’s committed to fighting for the survival of the precinct, told news.com.au Zilver’s closure was yet another major blow for the area.
“The closure of any longstanding business is always sad and Zilver is no exception,” he said.
“It has been a Chinatown stalwart for 30 years and has been a favourite for generations of Sydneysiders and visitors.
“Yum cha restaurants are part of the Chinatown story and fabric and it’s sad to see another one close, particularly with the announcement made during Chinese New Year.”
Meanwhile, last month it was revealed that the City of Sydney had earmarked $5 million to upgrade Chinatown’s Dixon St, with the cash set to rejuvenate the district’s famous main street.