Acclaimed restaurant in ‘bizarre’ sale
IT'S the best kept secret on the Sunshine Coast: celebrity chef David Rayner has sold his acclaimed Noosaville restaurant in a "bizarre" deal worth more than $600,000.
Thomas Corner Eatery, which has "a cult following" with the cast of TV soap Home And Away and counts actor Daniel MacPherson and swimmer Michael Klim as regulars, quietly changed hands this month.
"It all happened very quickly, it's surreal," said Rayner, 54, who opened the Gympie Terrace restaurant almost 10 years ago and has cooked for Naomi Watts in Los Angeles.
"I deliberately kept it quiet because I wanted to bow out gracefully," he said.
"It was a cash buyer and a walk-in, walk-out done deal, it was really bizarre."
The Courier-Mail can reveal the new owner is Nathan Beasley, who has a part interest in Spice Bar at Mooloolaba and previously ran a Harvey Norman franchise in Alice Springs.
Rayner said under the deal existing staff would be retained, and he hoped his "legacy would live on".
"It would be a mistake to not leave it as is because it's a great business and locals love it.
"As well as a cult following with Home And Away because Ray Meagher comes in and brings the crew, it's a 'cheffy' hangout with guys like (My Kitchen Rules judge) Pete Evans and (ex-MasterChef judge) Gary Mehigan."
What's next for Rayner? A long holiday with wife Belinda Frew, 55, and more time with his children Sam, 22, and Charlee, 19.
"I've been a chef all my life, and don't want the pressure of waking up thinking about the restaurant every day," he said.
A champion of Queensland produce, Rayner has appeared on TV alongside Lyndey Milan and Alastair McLeod.
Originally from London, where he worked and flatted with megastar chef Luke Mangan, he rose to prominence as the head chef at Berardo's, formerly in Noosa, in the early 2000s before leaving to open River House and subsequently Thomas Corner Eatery.
In 2013 he was invited by Mangan to help cook a celebratory lunch in LA for Naomi Watts following her Oscar nomination for her role in The Impossible.
Rayner said Thomas Corner Eatery had always been a 10-year plan for him and Belinda, who ran back-of-house and kept his food costs under control - "a constant problem for chefs" - and the couple wanted to thank local diners who had supported them from day one.