Well, here is some breaking news from Back of the Ferry. Murrays at Manly is no more. That statement might be a little absolute, because I think that maybe their beer will still dominate the taps at 49 North Steyne – but a venue called Murrays at Manly has ceased to exist. One of the toughest sites in Manly (maybe Sydney) to make work is 49 North Steyne and another victim has been claimed. The new venue, complete with new fit-out, new management, new menu and new name is the Rubber Duckie Taphouse. Now before anyone has a crack at the name (no, I’m not sold on it either), it is geographically relevant because the surf lifesavers use rubber duckies as an integral part of their operations. The livery of the signage also matches the colour scheme of the volunteer surf lifesavers.
So what’s happened? Well, as mentioned above, the 49 North Steyne jinx has bitten yet again. Murray’s is not the first big name to go down in this venue. Miguel Maestre, the celebrity chef of Spanish extraction, had a high profile crash and burn at this venue before Murray’s and no-one seems to last that long. By my estimation Murray’s clocked just a smidge of two years. As a regular patron, as an attendee of both opening nights and as a regular visitor to other Manly drinking holes, I’ve got a few theories I’d like to share.
Everyone wanted Murray’s at Manly to succeed. Manly folk were very proud that Murray’s had chosen Manly as his Sydney outlet – but it never really took hold. Sure there were a couple of nights where it was cheek to jowl. The Gerry Lopez evening was a stand-out example, and it worked well for that type of evening. More often than not, however, it wasn’t at capacity. Put simply, Murray’s at Manly never got its act together consistently. The menu constantly changed and the staff changed more than Melbourne weather and whilst often willing – never really built up a rapport. No-one was there long enough! Contrast that with the 4 Pines – consistent from the get go, and their staff have relationships with their customers and are passionate about the joint.
I had some great times at Murray’s, but I also had some shockers. The 2011 Father’s Day fiasco still causes my wife cold sweats where a four course meal took four hours to serve up. There was the false start where a really enthusiastic front of house guy – who had the right attitude in spades – disappeared very suddenly. There was the re-fit, which again took time to take hold and ultimately there was the real lack of a manager who knew what was going on. Some of the menus missed the mark by a long shot with pricing just totally out of whack with reality. It pains me to write this because I wanted Murray’s to work, and my @Untappd account is testament to how many chances I gave it, but it clearly hasn’t. Bummer.
So new management is in, there’s a new menu and there’s a new attitude. As I write this, our twitter account has been informed this is the first of many Rubber Duckie Taphouses. Each one will have the full range of Murray’s on tap. So there you go – a new distribution point for Murray’s. An inauspicious start – Manly was deserted because the food and wine festival was on and therefore it was raining – but I genuinely wish the new management all the best. Keep up the Murray’s, but also keep up the guest taps. I really enjoyed the Illawarra Rust and Pale.