There was a sign in the window of Ibla Cucina Italiana on Johnston St more than a month ago saying they were away on holidays and would be returning in late July. It was still there in early August (though it is now gone) and I’ve walked past a few times when they would normally be open but they’re closed.
Now their Facebook and Instagram accounts have been deleted. Although their website remains I’ll take the social media as indicative of their status. It’s over. They traded for about a year and a half.
It’s an odd and difficult thing when similar businesses open near each other. We’ve seen it repeatedly and one usually survives while the other folds. Two Sicilian restaurants on the same street seemed unlikely to have a happy ending.
Competitor Mr Ottorino has a better location (the former Commoner building) and a more complex and sophisticated menu, and it has prevailed. Ibla Cucina was not quite the right thing in the right place and perhaps not quite good enough to survive (though in most cases I think the quality of the food has a relatively small influence on a restaurant’s success or failure).
It’s more about location (is it easy to find as a deliberate destination or does it have a lot of passing foot traffic for spontaneous diners), image (do people like the look of it and want to walk in the door) and ambiance (do people like the feel of being in the space and want to return).