There is only one Sizzler left in N.S.W. after they closed their Kogarah restaurant on 9 April after 29 years. I was their last customer. Collins Food, owners of Sizzler Australia, have been disappointed in Sizzler’s sales since 2011.
It was my first time at Sizzler. A manager was reattaching the farewell sign to their front door and not permitted to speak to media. Staff members were in good spirits as said they need to take a last photo together later. Much of the menu was covered in Post-it notes claiming items were temporarily out of stock and would return as soon as possible – it won’t. The cashier said I was their last customer – it was 8:30 pm, half an hour until closing. The dining area was still half full with a few families. 1/3 of the drinks and chocolate ice cream had run out. The salad bar was still well-stocked. As I leave, staff gather for their photo in the dining area with the lit up Sizzler sign on Princess Highway as a backdrop.
Daniel and Therese Hoogesteger have finished their visit. They share many memories with family and friends here.
“Well, we came here, what was it? 13…” Daniel starts.
“…13 years ago [tonight], the night before our wedding. We came here with our bridal party,” Therese finishes.
Mr Hoogesteger continues “It’s always been a place where we knew that you could fit as many people as you wanted in on a table and everyone could always find something to eat and you could put away more than really you should.”
He then states there is are many really good restaurants in Sydney and many options.
When you want to eat out and spend your money, you don’t want to spend it on something that you can cook at home. You want to try something that reminds you of your travels or take you out of home.”
Like Mr Hoogesteger, Byrne observes that the level of competition has greatly increased in Sydney. Restaurants have incorporated children’s play centres but Sizzler has not. Byrnes comments on trends: “They tried to keep it a little bit adult but that didn’t really cut it. It’s closing because times have changed and past it by. Places like Pizza Hut as well. There’s not many Pizza Huts you can actually eat at.“
Especially popular in the 1990s, Sizzler Australia has struggled this decade. Sales have been dropping since 2011. Collins Foods wrote down the value of the franchise by $37.5 million in 2015. The Kogarah restaurant was fined for three failures to comply with the Food Standards Code in 2016. Rapidly restaurants closed – going from 26 in 2015 to currently having 16.