Dubbo's Maki Teppanyaki Restaurant has closed for "a short time" but the plan is to bring it back - bigger than before in a new CBD location - when the COVID situation eases, owner Brian Perera says.
The popular dining experience served its last meals in October, announcing on social media it was shutting the doors but also looking forward to relocating in Dubbo.
Mr Perera, restaurateur and chef, gave an update to the Daily Liberal.
Physical distancing rules brought in because of COVID-19, which impacted the number of diners that could be booked in at the teppanyaki table, was a major factor in his decision to shut the doors in October, he said.
"Until we get back to normal, I thought of closing the Maki for a short while, but I don't know exactly how long," Mr Perera said.
"It could be maybe six months, seven months, depending on how far we go with the restrictions."
In the meantime Mr Perera is planning, informed by the experience of operating Maki for three and a half years.
At the former Brisbane Street premises, he could have 12 diners only at the teppanyaki table, he said.
"But I do plan another teppanyaki in Dubbo, which is going to cater for about 20 people at once, so bigger table, bigger teppanyaki grill," Mr Perera said.
"It will be in Dubbo CBD, I'm looking for a location at the moment, there are a couple of places, but I don't know if they're going to be the perfect place for me, but it will be in the CBD, in Dubbo."
He also anticipated creating four or five more jobs.
The chef who honed his skills in luxury international hotels before moving to Dubbo more than a decade ago reported it had been hard to attract more chefs to the city to work in the restaurant.
Mr Perera said he didn't take any sick leave in nearly four years of operating Maki, and only closed Sundays and Mondays - but sometimes opened Sundays as well.
"So that was another reason, I needed a little break, so I'm planning to take another couple more chefs when I start new," he said.
"So the new teppanyaki restaurant will include the sushi bar, hopefully, if I get chefs, hot kitchen, sushi bar, and the teppanyaki, so everything will be perfect."
He's encouraged by a loyal following, with some people travelling from as far away as Sydney and Mudgee to enjoy the signature Japanese cooking style, he said.
"A lot of people do miss the teppanyaki, a lot of people do message me and tell me they can't wait until I open," he said.
For the moment Mr Perera is working at a local hotel, in the city he's chosen to make home.
"No, no, I don't think I'll ever leave Dubbo, I've been in Dubbo nearly 12 years already, so I'm settled in Dubbo, I've got two girls go to school in Dubbo, so I think Dubbo is a really good location to raise a family, I love it," he said.