After 12 years of wood-firing pizzas and pouring tap beers, Ladro TAP in Prahran has closed. Ladro’s original site in Fitzroy, opened in 2003, continues to operate under the same ownership team of Ingrid Langtry and Sean Kierce, with some key staff members shifting to the northside business.
Langtry points to post-Covid staffing woes as a big reason for consolidating. “It’s been a hard slog when you’re the bookkeeper, plumber, printer, cleaner and every other role we need to fill,” she says. “Selling is a way to re-energise and refocus on Ladro Fitzroy, have some down time and spend more time with family. It’s glad-sad for sure.”
For the first time post-lockdown, the Fitzroy restaurant will be able to staff up fully and open seven days. “We haven’t had a fully resourced restaurant since restrictions lifted,” says Langtry. “That relieves a lot of stress. We want to recover but we haven’t been able to because we didn’t have enough staff.”
Ladro TAP fought hard to survive lockdowns and associated disruptions. “We really gave everything a crack,” says Langtry.
Even before the first shutdown, they quickly pivoted to groceries sold online, were among the first to sell jarred cocktails, turned waiters into cycle couriers, and were pioneers in offering contactless drive-up takeaway.
The Prahran venue was the first restaurant to come on board with homeless charity StreetSmart who funded the restaurant to cook 400 meals every week for St Mary’s House of Welcome. “That really saved us and two of our visa-holder staff members,” says Langtry. “Those staff could help support their families overseas.”
Innovating was part of the Ladro DNA. When the Gertrude Street site opened (with founding partner Rita Macali), it was hailed for its new wave pizza and clean, cool design, winning Best New Restaurant in The Age Good Food Guide 2004. The restaurant received a hat in 2006.
The southside outpost opened as Ladro Prahran in 2010 – and received a heady review score of 15/20 – then rebranded five years ago as Ladro TAP with a sustainability focus. “We were the first restaurant in Victoria to have rooftop bees, we had zero food waste and we were one of the first to use tap mineral water and get rid of straws,” says Langtry.
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The restaurant donated compost to local kindergartens and bartered with farmers. “We had a local farmer who used our compost to grow lucerne for his sheep then every year he would give us a lamb,” she says.
Almost every beverage was on tap, reducing packaging but also creating flow-on positives for winemakers. “Vineyards might have just a bit of wine left and we would say put it in a keg and we’ll sell it,” says Langtry. “When I think about Ladro TAP, I think about all those opportunities for community partnerships. It was a testing ground, almost an incubator.”
The new owners of the Prahran site are Good Company Bar Group, owners of nearby Electric Bar on Chapel Street, among other venues. They will trade until Christmas then renovate and reopen in late January as an as-yet-unnamed “vibie bar” and “upbeat dining experience” with Italian food and a dessert cocktail menu.
After 12 years, Prahran pizza restaurant Ladro Tap has permanently closed – Good Food first appeared on Atablefortwo.com.au.