17 January 2023

Why did Wagga's new Rashays close and will it reopen?

| Chris Roe
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Sam Krayem

Rashays’ Sam Krayem says the Wagga franchise will reopen before Australia Day. Photo: Chris Roe.

“Yeah, mate, it’s frustrating and it’s not a good situation to be in, but what can you do?” says Rashays head of food and beverage Sam Krayem.

The popular family restaurant chain opened its Wagga franchise in late December before closing up shop just days later.

The sign in the window declaring a temporary closure prompted plenty of speculation but Sam is happy to set the record straight, explaining that it was an issue with exhaust fans in the kitchen that shut the eatery.

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“The building used to be a theatre and it’s got those really high ceilings that go right through,” he says.

“The builders allocated for the suction of our hood to counteract that high ceiling, but it’s a long way to suck and when they tested it, they didn’t account for the impact it would have when it was up and running and so busy before Christmas.

“With a new restaurant, you always run into problems, but not with the hood! That was the last thing I expected.”

closed shop

The rumour mill has been in overdrive since Rashays opened and closed just days later. Photo: Chris Roe.

Sam and the franchisees realised they had a problem when smoke and heat began filtering back into the restaurant, making it uncomfortable for both staff and diners.

“The fact was that it was bearable, but it shouldn’t be there,” he says.

“And then because it was Christmas Eve we ran into, like, the worst time of the year because everyone is closed and there was no one that we were able to get in contact with to sort it out.

“We really tried to stay open because, you know, closing is costly for everyone, especially the staff and a franchisee, but we just couldn’t do it.”

READ ALSO Rashays finally opens its doors with a ceremonial pour of mushroom sauce

The move to Wagga has been a challenging one for the franchise that began in Sydney in 1998 and has grown to include more than 30 restaurants across the country.

Post-COVID delays with staff and materials stalled the initial opening last year and Sam says they are using the current closure to complete a couple of other modifications that they had been unable to get done.

“Initially we kept the original tiles because we couldn’t get anyone to do the flooring because materials and labour were so scarce,” he says.

“But we finally got hold of them and they’re doing them now and we’ll sort out the hood.”

The new deadline to reopen is just before Australia Day and Sam says they have been doing what they can to look after the staff, who had only just been hired.

“It’s tough, they’re all sitting there waiting for us and we’ve got in touch and said to them that we’re a week away, and they have been understanding.”

Rashays Wagga expects to reopen on 24 or 25 January.

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