Lean times for Oxford Street

Closing down... Joe Natale stands on Oxford Street.
Closing down... Joe Natale stands on Oxford Street.
Oxford Street  ... business is quiet for restaurants.

Oxford Street ... business is quiet for restaurants.

End of an era ... Joe Natale, owner of Rambutan.

End of an era ... Joe Natale, owner of Rambutan.

If the closure of Rambutan is bad news for fans of southern Thai cuisine, the restaurant's passing signals even bigger issues for struggling Oxford Street.

"It's a miracle we lasted so long," Rambutan owner Joe Natale, says.

"Council are all promises. More and more convenience stores and kebab shops keep opening up.

"For restaurants, there's a problem with nightclubs and the demographics they attract.

"Parking is an issue, and the bus lanes are just redirecting people to Westfield.

"We won an award as best Thai for the last three years - if we'd been somewhere else, it would've been a completely different story."

The restaurateur says the small strip of Oxford Street where Rambutan traded is an example of the wider problem.

"Betty's Soup Kitchen closed and a new restaurant on the other side from us only lasted a few months," he says.

Natale is jumping ship to Crown Street, Surry Hills, teaming up with Shane Sukkar at Cortile Pizza, where a courtyard cocktail bar has been installed, run by Rambutan's former bar manager.