Tosolini's restaurant has closed abruptly in Civic after 29 years amid a dispute over rent and the terms of a new lease.
Owner Carlo Tosolini said he was forced to shut down the restaurant and cafe on the Easter weekend after he was unable to negotiate terms with the landlord, Harry Notaras.
Mr Notaras, who owns the Bailey's Corner arcade where the cafe sits, said Mr Tosolini owed rent of more than $90,000.
"We were trying to negotiate a lease, although he was in arrears a substantial amount ... we were working around a repayment plan," he said.
"We'd carried his debt a long time, because he has been with us a long time, it's been over two years we've been working with him to get him back on track."
The lease for the premises expired in 2013 and the property had been on a month-to-month arrangement since.
Mr Tosolini said he had decided to vacate the premises after the negotiations for a new lease broke down.
"We've had 29 great years there and 18 years with the current landlords so I don't think they can have too much to complain about. I'm not going to lower myself to slander or to say anything derogatory," he said.
"At the end of the day, when you can't come to terms, or you can't agree on terms you've got to make a decision and you've got to make the right decision. I've been [at the site] for 29 years and there is time for change and people have got to recognise there's got to be change made, and I recognise I needed to make a change. If you can't come to terms there's no one to blame."
Mr Notaras said he had been negotiating in good faith. "I'm waiting for [Mr Tosolini's] liquidators to work things out. I'm just waiting to receive word from our solicitors," he said.
Mr Tosolini said the matter was with lawyers.
"At the end of the day the solicitors are involved and let nature take its course."
The cafe employed between 15-20 staff, and Mr Tosolini said some of the staff had moved to other jobs. He said a separate Tosolini's catering business was unaffected.
He said he didn't know what he would be doing next but would be taking a long break. Mr Tosolini opened the restaurant with his mother Tina, whom he described as a "soulmate with the business" and whose cooking won her fans.
"She's always been there with me together we've created and built something," he said. "We've had a number of great years there, we've had a number of street parties there, so many people did some wonderful things."
Mr Notaras said he would look for new operators for the cafe premises. "We're going to get the business back up and running however we can do it, it is an institution and the business has always traded well and we've just got to find the right operators."