Hospitality entrepreneur Justin Hemmes has responded to the "devastating time" the industry is experiencing with the shutdown of all of Merivale's 70-plus venues, potentially putting 3,000 jobs at risk.
Hemmes, whose company owns such iconic bars and restaurants as Establishment, ivy and the Coogee Pavilion, wrote a letter to guests today explaining trading had ceased as of yesterday.
"As a result of the recent government orders to combat COVID-19, our restaurants and bars have ceased trading as of yesterday for the foreseeable future," he said.
"This is the extremely unfortunate reality of COVID-19 and all Australians are being severely impacted through no fault of their own.
"It is a particularly devastating time for the hospitality industry, but nothing is more important than health. We wholeheartedly support government efforts to protect our country and will happily play our part to help stop the spread."
The company's bottle shops at The Newport, Allawah Hotel and The Royal will however remain open.
He said now that this decision has been made for community health and safety, his absolute top priority is supporting staff.
"Merivale is what it is today because of its people, and I am simply in awe of our team's passion and strength, especially over the last few weeks," Hemmes said.
"Behind the scenes, we are doing everything we can to get the business in the best possible position to reopen its doors, and help rebuild our economy, as soon as it is safe to do so.
"We will continue to update you on developments, including how we can continue to operate under the government's new takeaway and home delivery guidelines, in the hope we can continue to serve you safely and maintain a livelihood for as many of our much-loved employees as possible."
"I am completely heartbroken that this is happening but remain focused on the light at the end of the tunnel. Together we will get through this and I can't wait to personally welcome you all back into our venues as soon as it is safe.
Updated at 7:22pm AEDT on 24 March 2020.
Help us deliver quality journalism to you.
As a free and independent news site providing daily updates
during a period of unprecedented challenges for businesses everywhere
we call on your support