Neil Perry Has Retired from the Rockpool Dining Group After 40 Years in the Restaurant Industry

The famed chef and restaurateur is stepping down from his role as culinary director and, instead, focusing on his charity.
Samantha Teague
Published on July 07, 2020

Neil Perry and Rockpool have been inextricably linked since 1989, but they won't be for much longer, with the famed restaurateur announcing his sudden retirement from the Rockpool Dining Group earlier this week.

Perry has stepped down from his role as culinary director for the hospitality group, which began as Rockpool Est. 1989 in Sydney's CBD. While the inaugural Rockpool restaurant closed its doors after 30 years in 2016, it spawned Rockpool Bar & Grills in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth, and grew into the Rockpool Dining Group, which currently has over 80 venues across the country under 16 different restaurant brands.

The fast expansion of the group in recent years has been partially thanks to its merger with the Thomas Pash-led Urban Purveyor Group (UPG) in 2016. From 2017–2020, the group grew from 17 venues and $150 million in revenue to 85 and $400 million.

Despite the group's success, Perry and Pash were set to part ways this year. Perry, with the help of financial backers, planned to reacquire the premium restaurants in the group's portfolio — Rockpool Bar & Grill, Rosetta, Spice Temple and R Bar, under the name Rockpool Group — while the remaining casual brands, including El Camino Cantina and The Bavarian, were maintained by UPG under the new name Pacific Concepts.

Rockpool Bar & Grill in Sydney

That decision, however, was announced on March 2 — just weeks before the COVID-19 hit Australia, forcing the mass closure of restaurants across the country and crippling the hospitality industry. As a result, according to The Australian Financial Review, Perry's plan fell apart.

While staying on as consultant and a major shareholder of the Rockpool Dining Group, Perry will no longer be an active part of the company, a statement on the chef's departure said. Instead, he'll be focusing on his charitable endeavours, including the recently launched Hope Delivery, which provides meals for those in need.

"It will never be easy to move on from the restaurants I founded, and I do so with a heavy heart, but as the business and the sector set their sights on new beginnings, it is the right time for the next generation to have the opportunity afforded to me over 40 years ago," Perry said in a statement.

For more information about Rockpool Dining Group and which restaurants have reopened, head to the group's website

Top image: Neil Perry and Tom Pash

Published on July 07, 2020 by Samantha Teague
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