Diedre Mussen – Stuff
Desperate dessert diners have emerged in droves to book seats at the soon-to-close Wellington restaurant Strawberry Fare.
The Kent Tce restaurant will shut its doors on May 29, disappointing many loyal sweet-toothed patrons who fear missing their favourite sugar hit.
Owner Katy Pearce was inundated with people booking tables after announcing its impending closure on social media at midday on Tuesday, forcing her to stop taking any further reservations by Tuesday evening.
“It’s been overwhelming. I feel so terrible to say to people we just can’t take any more bookings.”
One of her maitre d’s, Caitlin Barrie, suggested posting news of the closure on the restaurant’s Facebook page, a day after staff were told about it on Monday.
Pearce said she knew it would create huge interest, but agreed with Barrie’s encouraging words: “Let’s go out with a bang”.
Within about eight hours, all their last bookings were full with hundreds of people emailing and phoning in.
“I said to Caitlin afterwards, ‘You got your bang’.”
The art deco restaurant opened in 1992 in a remodelled former funeral parlour and swiftly became a popular institution for its sweet treats.
Pearce said it was a hard decision to close-up shop, but the building needed repairs and she wanted a break to spend more time with her three daughters, aged from 6 to 12 years.
“I’ve worked every day for the last 24 years. That’s what owning your own business is like. It will be so nice for me to have a break.”
Many people had posted messages on social media mourning the inner-city restaurant’s closure, reminiscing about special occasions over favourite desserts, which moved her to tears.
“It’s been really lovely. I haven’t realised how much impact it’s had.”
News of the closure forced the Christchurch-based restaurant of the same name to clarify it was still business as usual.
“Strawberry Fare in Christchurch is not closing. Strawberry Fare in Wellington is closing. Not us,” its Facebook page said.
* Wellington dessert destination set to close
* Ladies of Wellington: Strawberry Fare