Melbourne's apartment boom just claimed one of the city's favourite restaurants, Pope Joan

SuppliedPope Joan in Brunswick East is closing.

Pope Joan, the Brunswick East cafe, restaurant and wine bar that paved the way for smart-casual dining and ‘lovacore’ ingredients under chef Matt Wilkinson will close next month after eight years.

The site will become a seven-storey apartment block.

“Pope Joan will be closing on Sunday 24th June to make way for the inevitable development of apartments on our site,” Wilkinson announced on social media this afternoon.

The previously low-key neighbourhood around Pope Joan has increasingly turned into building site in recent years with apartments rising both opposite and around the cafe loved for its kitchen and ‘beer’ garden. Pope Joan’s landlord sold the site two years ago.

Three cookbooks later, it’s been a great adventure for Wilkinson since his “community hub” began in 2010.

“We were in the right place at the right time for the right price,” the chef told Business Insider.

“We always new something would happen, but I couldn’t be prouder of what we’ve achieved. Pope Joan’s been amazing.”

The end is bittersweet.

“I’m sad because in the last 18 months I feel like I’ve really found myself and my love of cooking has never been stronger,” he said.

“I’m a better cook and better person than I’ve ever been.”

The adjacent former Hams and Bacon providore Wilkinson turned into Pie Shop a year ago will continue trading. The building is owned by a different landlord.

The South Yorkshire-born chef, who combined childhood nostalgia with his heritage on what became a cult all-day breakfast menu of boiled eggs with toast soldiers, rice pudding, sardines with poached eggs, and the “‘kinda’ full English” combo with sausage and baked beans, plans to revive some old favourites for the daytime menu over the final month, alongside four “special” Friday night dinners.

“Thank you so much from the bottom of my heart to all our customers, suppliers, staff and to my family and friends for joining me on this wild ride,” Wilkinson said.

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