As celebrity chef Matt Moran prepares to reopen the Opera Bar, he is urging the NSW Government to reassess capacity limits for venues.
As celebrity chef Matt Moran prepares to reopen the Opera Bar, he is urging the NSW Government to reassess capacity limits for venues.

‘Lift restaurant limits as the weather warms’: Matt Moran

Celebrity chef Matt Moran is urging the NSW Government to reassess capacity limits for venues, saying the current restrictions are hurting the industry.

The Solotel chef and restaurateur will reopen the iconic Opera Bar, outside the Sydney Opera House at Circular Quay, on Thursday after months in COVID limbo.

While Moran is excited to reopen and adjust the Opera Bar's focus to locals, due to current restrictions the venue that once seated almost 2000 can now only seat 300.

"With anything you reopening in this current environment you get nervous, simple as that," he said. "The social distancing and limiting patrons to 300 is our hurdle still.

"I'm not an expert but I think they should definitely be looking at it because Opera Bar is a big outdoor space. Limiting that to 300 - I think it's pretty tough.

"With all our tracing and how well we're doing I think they should be looking at one person to 2m sq in restaurants. I'd like to see that happen.

"The one to 4m sq really hurts us. If we went to one to 2m sq it would help a hell of a lot."

Moran said even removing the 300 person capacity from larger areas would help venues survive, especially through the upcoming warmer months that often prop venues up for the rest of the year.

Bel Sieben, Lisa Rooney and Allira Foster at Opera Bar in Sydney, ahead of it’s reopening. Picture: Tim Hunter.
Bel Sieben, Lisa Rooney and Allira Foster at Opera Bar in Sydney, ahead of it’s reopening. Picture: Tim Hunter.

For patrons, however, the restrictions have brought positive changes including Opera Bar accepting bookings for the first time ever as well as tap and pay table ordering that will negate lining up for food and drink.

The menu will still consist of Opera Bar favourites including Sydney rock oysters and the seafood platter, plus a pop-up sushi bar and a new spirits menu with significantly more local distillers.

Moran said he and his team were excited to put the focus on locals.

"We're hoping that coming into nicer weather where it's a bit warmer, people will venture down," he said.

"It's a great meeting point for people from the north and the east and the west with the rail and ferries.

"The Opera Bar is that classic icon, in between the Opera House and Harbour Bridge and it's kind of like when that reopens, Sydney feels like it's reopening a little bit."

Originally published as 'Lift restaurant limits as the weather warms': Matt Moran


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