Farewell Old Friend

Chris Upton, Co-owner, O'Connell St Bistro

After 24 years, the famed O’Connell Street Bistro in Auckland’s O’Connell Street is closing its doors for good on Friday, April 16, 2021.

Owners and founders Chris Upton and Amanda Mason point to the insecurity of COVID-19 and being unable to successfully renegotiate their lease as the reasons behind the difficult decision to close their doors after more than two decades in business.

“With the continuing lockdowns and the challenges of operating at Level 2 in the first two months of 2021, and with no clear respite ahead, it is unsustainable to continue,” said Chris Upton.

The renowned Bistro has been awarded many accolades over the years including being cited as one of the Top 42 places in the World to visit, (Vanity Fair April 2007) and the Award of Excellence from the prestigious New York Wine Spectator magazine from 2001-2016.

With a famed wine list and dishes that have stood the test of time including the celebrated rabbit pappardelle (on the menu since 2000), the couple say they are now focussed on supporting their team and delivering an exceptional experience to guests for the next four weeks of service.

The restaurant has weathered many storms including the ‘power crisis’ in February – March 1998 when just four months after opening its doors the Bistro was forced to shut down.

Then came the restaurant fire on 26 January 2016, which resulted in an eight-month closure for refurbishment. Despite this sophomore setback, the couple kept their team fully employed, spending time focusing on charity work and restaurant pop-ups.

“While the Bistro has been our life’s work for close to a quarter of a century, we have never thought of it as simply ours. It belongs to every one of our fabulous patrons who have supported us and enjoyed our hospitality,” continued Upton.

“We have enjoyed one hell of a wonderful ride and our heartfelt thanks go out to all of our guests who have made the Bistro part of their life. For us, it has always been about offering outstanding cuisine, brilliant service, a cosy relaxed ambience and of course, all that memorable wine.”

The owners noted that were honoured to be consistently placed among the top restaurants in New Zealand.

“We have been privileged to work alongside teams of very talented individuals. We have had fantastic chefs, managers, sommeliers, waiters, and kitchen hands who have contributed hugely to the success of the Bistro,” Upton concluded.

“We feel great sadness knowing we are at the end of an era, but we also feel joy and satisfaction knowing that together we all created an amazing and special place.”

O’Connell Street Bistro will close its doors after the final dinner service on Friday 16 April. Until then O’Connell Street Bistro is open for lunch on Thursday and Friday from 11.30am and dinner Tuesday to Saturday from 5:00pm.