There are few restaurants that have stood the test of time like Moroccan Soup Bar – likewise, few dishes that have received as much adoration as the venue's famed chickpea bake. But now, owner and head chef Hana Assafiri OAM has made the difficult decision to close up shop after 24 years in business.
"We have decided to close the dine-in capacity for many reasons – one of which is rethinking our social and dining habits," says Assafiri. "The pandemic has made dining indoors difficult, both in terms of logistics and the health of our customers and staff."
Moroccan Soup Bar will close the doors at its St George's Road location on June 30th, as the team officially ends dine-in services and gives up the lease. But Assafiri is planning to regroup and return with a new, more socially minded business model. "The pandemic has radically transformed our lives and requires a rethinking of the way we socialise around a meal," she says. "Times are calling for us to innovate and lead by example – the future of the Moroccan soup bar 'dine-in' will look like conversation salons and pop-ups at various locations across Melbourne to satisfy the palate, feed the mind and engage with the social issues for our times
In near future, you'll be able to get your chickpea bake fix through delivery or pick-up (once the MSB has found a new location). Eventually, Assafiri hopes people will be able to invite the team into their homes for conversations about social justice, for catering events or to learn how to cook some of the former restaurant's recipes themselves. "I have so many favourite memories of running this business," she says. "I've watched generations come through our doors – Moroccan Soup Bar is a surrogate aunt of our community: a strong, unwavering advocate of those most marginalised."
You'll be able to dine in at Moroccan Soup Bar until June 30th, and follow the venue on Instagram to stay up to date with the team's movements.