Health inspectors close chef Matt Moran’s Qld restaurant

IT'S enough to give celebrity chef a wicked case of indigestion.

In a surprise move, a Brisbane City Council health inspector swooped on his Riverbar & Kitchen on Tuesday and it was still closed yesterday.

Moran didn't return City Beat's call but a spin doctor for his Solotel Group said the popular Eagle Street Pier venue was forced to shut temporarily "due to some issues with its food business licence''.

"A recent council inspection found some deficiencies in our food handling processes which are being addressed as a matter of urgency,'' he said.

"Solotel takes these issues very seriously and we acknowledge we took our eye off the ball on this occasion and our normally very high standards were not adhered to this time… This is simply a situation where we should have done better.''

Riverbar and kitchen. Picture: Mark Calleja
Riverbar and kitchen. Picture: Mark Calleja

Riverbar, which launched five years ago and has a five-star rating, is expected to reopen within a few days. It has not previously suffered a similarly embarrassing compliance problem.

Area traders noticed something amiss on Wednesday when they spotted Riverbar staff standing outside idly munching on pizzas as a bit of drama unfolded inside.

A deliberately vague sign outside the venue yesterday told prospective patrons that "due to unforeseen circumstance (sic) we have had to close with short notice. We expect to reopen in the coming days. Please check our Facebook page.''

By yesterday afternoon, a small army of tradies was swarming through the site, including a team of pest controllers. Kitchen equipment was even removed and taken away on trucks.

Earlier in the day, when City Beat rang Riverbar to find out what was happening and why it stopped trading, we were fobbed off with a bit of bulldust.

"It's just a big spring clean,'' we were told by one staffer.

That piqued our interest, not least because it's summer and we're heading into fall.

As one nearby bar owner noted, any place doing a bit of sprucing up would carry out that work in the quiet days of early January and not after Australia Day.

A council spokeswoman declined to comment about the matter yesterday.

Illustration of Matt Moran by Brett Lethbridge
Illustration of Matt Moran by Brett Lethbridge

But CBD bar and restaurant operators say health inspectors have been on the warpath since the holidays and paid surprise visits to other Eagle Street Pier outlets this week.

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