One of Auckland's top restaurants is closing its doors. After 13 years dishing up inspired gastronomic delights, owner Tony Stewart has announced it's time to shut up shop.
Speaking to Viva magazine, Stewart has revealed his life-long battle with cystic fibrosis and shares that after 30 years in the restaurant game, he's hanging up his hat due to the challenges of his condition.
"I chose to build a restaurant that is heavily reliant on a hands on style of leadership, one that leads by example, a style that has bought so much satisfaction to me over the years, but now, one that is very difficult to maintain."
Stewart's foray into the Auckland food scene was by way of a lounge bar in the 90s. Then in 2006 he launched Clooney in Sale St, Freeemans Bay - now one of only four restaurants in New Zealand with three hats.
With his kitchen currently led by chef Nobu Lee, the latest focus has been on telling a culinary story inspired by New Zealand.
Stewart shares that he is "incredibly proud of the direction we've taken with Clooney and our dedication to kickstart important conversations around New Zealand ingredients and the need to get NZ food noticed."
He says Clooney's canape selection allowed his team to "showcase the exciting food story of indigenous ingredients, what makes them exceptional and why they contribute to New Zealand's exciting food story."
Clooney's last supper with be served on October 13, but Stewart says he intends to continue working in the Auckland food scene in some capacity, "hopefully one that furthers New Zealand's culinary identity and story."
Stewart has extended his gratitude to "all customers past and present" for supporting his restaurant, noting there have been "many highs – and many challenges" but says he has been driven by both.
"I have always lived with a deep passion for the hospitality industry and can't imagine having taken any other path than this one."
Stewart was born with cystic fibrosis and is one of 203 adults over 25 living with the disease in New Zealand. Of that number there are 47 adults aged 45 and over.