Stapleton's Restaurant at Sutherland for sale as Leo and Merren 'take a break' after 25 great years

Saying goodbye: Leo Rutishauser says it will be hard leaving Stapleton's Restaurant at Sutherland after 25 years because customers have become friends. Picture: John Veage
Saying goodbye: Leo Rutishauser says it will be hard leaving Stapleton's Restaurant at Sutherland after 25 years because customers have become friends. Picture: John Veage

It was a good outcome for the restaurant scene in Sutherland Shire when leading chef Leo Rutishauser decided he was through with taking orders.

Mr Rutishauser was executive chef at Sydney Tower Restaurant, at the top of Centrepoint, for a decade.

However, he yearned to have his own restaurant and, in 1993, he and his wife Merren bought Stapleton’s Steakhouse opposite the railway station at Sutherland.

“I had had enough of being told what to do,” he said as he prepared for dinner at the restaurant, which is upstairs from where the historic Stapleton’s Butchery traded until the shop closed in 2017.

“Even at Centrepoint, where I had 100 people under me, I still had bosses above me.

“I like having my own place and no one can tell me what to do.”

Twenty-five years later, the couple have made another big decision.

They are selling their business, which they renamed Stapleton’s Restaurant, “to take a beak, enjoy a holiday and spend time with family at opposite ends of the earth”.

“It’s time to stop,” said Mrs Rutishauser, who began helping in the restaurant with a few lunches while the couple’s two children were at school, which led to her working four to five nights a week.

“We have been here 25 years and we didn’t want to be there for another 25.”

Mrs Rutishauser said the business had flourished for so long in the face of intense competition from an ever-growing choice of cuisine, because “we do a good steak and provide good service.”

“Leo is a bit of an identity and people like to come in and talk to him about his various interests,” she said.

“The restaurant hasn’t changed much since we bought it from the Stapleton family.

“It’s a very outdated, old worldly place. Someone might come in and make it a bit more modern.”

Stapleton’s has always been known as a great steakhouse, but also specialises in Swiss contemporary cuisine.

Mr Rutishauser’s favourite is “prime rib marinated with special spices and herbs we buy at Flemington Markets and cooked to perfection”.

He will miss their customers.

“They are beautiful people, who have become our friends,” he said.

“I will have a break and, more than likely will come back in some way, and do some cooking. That’s what I do best.”