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By Madeleine Gray on June 2, 2017 in News

Photo: Morgan Wood

The commonly regurgitated stat is that nine out of ten restaurants fail in their first year. While it is hard to find statistics that explicitly support that, the message remains: the restaurant business is notoriously difficult to succeed in.

So when a restaurant manages to stick around for not just one year, but for 30 years, it’s a clear indication that the place is pretty bloody good.

This year marks 30 consecutive years of business for Eastern Suburbs stalwart, the Bondi Trattoria. Situated at the south end of Bondi Beach, the Tratt has remained a local favourite for decades, providing residents and tourists alike with stunning views, fresh Italian food, and the friendliest staff you could ever meet.

Brothers Matthew and Rodney Sen opened the Tratt in 1987. Back then it lived in a different spot at the north end of the beach. In 1991 it moved to its present location, and over the years Matthew has co-owned the business with a handful of different blokes, in different formations, including Andrew Anthony, Andy Davies, and Ross Annas.

As of early May, Matthew and current co-owner Mr. Annas will be officially handing over the reigns of the popular restaurant to new owners, Joe Pavlovich and Alasdair France.

“Everyone I have spoken to in the industry has a huge regard for Joe and Alasdair,” Matthew said. “They are keeping the Bondi Tratt name and a large part of the team.”

Over the years the Tratt has been the venue for not only thousands of family dinners, dates, and coffees, it has also been the meeting place of several romantic pairings, particularly amongst its staff, including Matthew himself.

“After a busy service in 1993, I was having a drink at the bar with a waitress named Irene, who later became my wife,” he said.

“The Tratt has also spawned a dozen kids via no less than eight staff couplings!”

In 1994, the Sen brothers also opened Barzura at the southern end of Coogee Beach, a business that Rodney still runs until this day. It’s fair to say they are very much entrenched in the Eastern Suburbs restaurant scene, and in the community itself.

“I feel both institutions have embedded themselves in the local community,” Matthew said.

“Despite our fabulous locations we have been local restaurants serving local people, supporting local events and schools.

“It’s hard to get through a Bondi or Coogee winter without the help of your regulars.”

When asked to share some of his favourite memories of the restaurant over the past 30 years, Matthew was quick to mention his intergenerational client base.

“From the start we were serving kids and welcoming families,” he said. “Those kids come in with their own families now.

“The last month, having told regulars of the sale, has been amazing. I’ve been reminded of their much-appreciated loyalty.

“One customer told me that his son had his first restaurant meal at the Tratt 22 years ago, and they still come in every Wednesday for dinner.”

When asked how he felt about moving on from the Tratt, Matthew was frank.

“All restaurants need renewal, and we have always tried to keep the Tratt fresh whilst still maintaining its heritage,” he said.

“After 30 years, it’s time to see someone else do that.”



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