Last Updated on October 4, 2023, 8:32 am
An American-born restaurateur in St. Kilda died of an undiagnosed condition.
Kevin Donovan, an American-born restaurateur and co-founder of Donovans restaurant in St. Kilda, Australia, passed away at 68 due to an undiagnosed illness.
Donovan and his wife, Gail Donovan, had sold the restaurant on August 31, 2023, only weeks before his passing. They had managed the establishment for 26 years. Donovan had been struggling with his health with an undiagnosed condition for the past five years and could not work in the restaurant for at least three years, his wife Gail told a local news magazine.
The new owner of their restaurant, Nick Parkhouse, remained close to the Donovan family. He remarked that he considered Donovan ‘his adopted father’. He spoke to the magazine and said that Donovan had died peacefully in his sleep on Tuesday morning. His wife Gail had cooked him a wonderful dinner the night before. “His last meal was sharing an incredible thing with Gial, which was a marvellous send-off for him”, he told the magazine.
Kevin Donovan was born in America. He moved to Australia in 1986 and opened Hyatt on Collins, now Grand Hyatt Melbourne. He was director of Food and Beverage.
Reminiscing on the time she met Donovan for the first time at an interview for her job at Hyatt, she said,
“I went home and said to my housemate, ‘I’m going to marry that guy.’ I thought he was wonderful.”
The duo went on to manage South Yarra Restaurant Chinois and head on to buy their restaurant, then known as ‘Jean Jacques By The Sea ‘, which was situated at a beachside pavilion dating back to 1928.
They renamed it ‘The Pavilion’. They later renovated it to a colourful, personal living room style space in 1997 and reopened it as ‘Donovans’ along with Richard B. Fisher and Jeanne Donovan Fisher (no relation).
Since the reopening of the restaurant, they received at least one Good Food Guide hat Award each year and the Vittoria Coffee Legend Award in ‘The Age Good Food Guide 2016’.
Nick Parkhouse told the magazine that he assured the restaurant’s regulars that their favourite restaurant would remain as amazing as ever at the time of sale. He said he learnt so much from Donovan, and he was a “paramount professional in the hospitality industry” in Australia and worldwide.
“What Gail and Kevin have created is one of the most iconic restaurants, not only in Melbourne, but Australia. It’s so revered and loved and there’s not a damn thing that’s going to change. It’s my honour to carry the mantle.”
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