We often write profiles of our local restaurants.

We’ve written about the best new bars and eateries, best spots for a long lunch, late night snack, breakfast or coffee. We’ve also interviewed local restaurant owners and operators in our area. During the pandemic we even wrote about our favourite takeaway restaurants.

But did you know that many local, family run restaurants are doing it really tough right now? Here’s how you can help.

Restaurants and cafes are integral to our community

There’s no doubt that restaurants and cafes are part of the fabric of our local communities here in Sydney’s East. Suburbs such as Potts Point, Darlinghurst and Surry Hills have long been magnets for foodies.

These wonderful parts of Sydney wouldn’t have their vibrant and exciting atmospheres without local restaurants and cafes.

In my view, restaurants are more than somewhere just to eat. They also offer a great atmosphere to hang out in, allowing us to make memories and celebrate life’s milestones. Some even end up becoming local institutions – particularly if they’ve been around for decades.

However, the hospitality industry faces unique challenges, which have only grown more acute in recent years. These include staff and skills shortages, rising rents and energy bills, increasing food prices, and the difficulty of attracting new or loyal customers in a crowded and competitive market.

There’s also growing debate over changes impacted by third-party food delivery services, which can be both a blessing and a curse for restauranteurs.

In fact, a recent report by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission revealed the hospitality and retail sectors are facing unprecedented challenges, with insolvency claims in the accommodation and food services sector surging by 92.4% in the December quarter compared to the same period in 2022.

Red Lantern speaks out

Red Lantern in Surry Hills, is a pioneer in the industry and a local institution. It’s also Sydney’s most awarded Vietnamese restaurant.

Dubbed “one of the best-known modern Vietnamese restaurants in the world” by Gourmet Traveller, it has been serving up delicious food from its stunning decorated premises for over 22 years.

But now Red Lantern is spearheading a campaign to highlight the critical need for ongoing support of local, family-owned restaurants in our community, asking people to “show up or they’ll have to close up”.

Its founders, Pauline Nguyen and Mark Jensen, are speaking out on behalf of their own restaurant, but also other restaurants and cafes facing challenges. They’re urging patrons of beloved dining spots to show their support by frequenting and sharing their favourite culinary gems with others.

Pauline says that there are many challenges to running a successful restaurant, including the fact that family-owned restaurants like hers compete not only with their immediate neighbours but also with well-funded hospitality groups.

We’re not just competing against other restaurants; we’re up against hedge fund-backed hospitality groups with deeper pockets and more resources,” Pauline said.

“It’s a different game for family-owned places like ours, where every customer’s visit counts towards our survival.”

Meanwhile, co-founder Mark Jensen highlights the misconception that a long-running restaurant will be safe from market challenges.

[Red Lantern’s] presence in the community for over two decades has been a journey of passion, yet there’s this assumption that because we’ve been around for 22 years, we must be able to weather any storm without help,” Mark explains.

But the reality is quite the opposite. It’s crucial for the public to realise that their support is vital, now more than ever.

Red Lantern’s campaign is built around a simple yet impactful call to action:

“Visit your favourite restaurant once every six weeks and share the passion by bringing a new friend. This will help grow restaurants and fill the gaps that have widened, particularly in these challenging times.”

Book your next dinner out

We are so lucky to have a wonderful selection of restaurants, cafes, bars and other venues to choose from in our area. It’s a key part of what makes it so great to live and work here. Keep your favourite local family restaurant or cafe alive, by booking your next meal out – we will be!

Article by Jason Boon

In a real estate market that is the focus of Australian, and indeed worldwide attention, Jason Boon's results in the Sydney scene make him a highly significant figure within the industry. A long-term specialist in the Potts Point and inner eastern suburbs area, he is uniquely placed to leverage his skills and local knowledge as the area undergoes significant change and diversification. Jason ha…