Cotto: Popular Auckland restaurant reopens with new name after abrupt and mysterious closure

Photo of Cotto's interior with inset photo of new menu announcing its Otto rebrand
Photo credit: @cotto_krd / Instagram

An acclaimed Auckland City restaurant that closed under mysterious circumstances late last year has officially reopened under a new name.

Cotto, a popular pasta bar on Karangahape Road, abruptly shut up shop in November 2023 after five years in business, with no public explanation as to why the successful eatery had suddenly shut its doors.

Customers questioned on social media as to why their group bookings had been cancelled at short notice and according to reports, even staff hadn't been made aware of the closure when they turned up for their shifts on November 21. A note was subsequently pinned to the outside of the building that cited "unforeseen circumstances", with the locks reportedly changed days later.

On Wednesday, however, Cotto returned to its social media with a new name and an announcement that it was apparently back in business.

Now operating under the name 'Otto', the restaurant's return to Instagram was marked with a photo that showcased its revamped menu - its first post since November 16.

"Summer menu is finally available today," the photo was captioned, alongside its current operating hours. "Back to normal hours... Walk-ins always welcome."

The news has been met with glee by enthused fans, with one declaring in the comments: "Delighted to hear you are back."

"Delighted to be back!" it responded.

"Who needs the C anyway?" another said, to which the restaurant replied with a winking emoji.

At the time of writing, the account still has the username @cotto_krd, but its title has been changed in its bio. The Cotto website has also been altered to its new Otto moniker.

Otto's Instagram Story on Wednesday, February 21.
Otto's Instagram Story on Wednesday, February 21. Photo credit: @cotto_krd / Instagram

The restaurant had hinted at an imminent reopening, with the notice on its door recently updated to read that it would be "back up and running shortly". A statement co-signed by chef and co-founder John Pountney and general manager Ed Hurrell was also shared to its Instagram on January 31. In the statement, they apologised to customers and claimed the abrupt closure was due to its "owner/investor" failing "to fulfill his financial obligations" [sic].

"This resulted in Cotto staff being locked out, suppliers not being paid, our staff not being paid and our inability to accommodate all of you," the statement continued.   

"For all those missing their dumplings, focaccia, or pasta fix fear not. John, Ed, and the Cotto team have something in the pipeline, coming soon."  

In early December, The Spinoff published a report covering what was known about the restaurant's unexpected closure. Its owner, Craig Anderson, was also connected to other hospitality venues that had closed at a similiar time, including Anthology Bar, Curfew Lounge Bar and Leigh Sawmill Cafe.   

At the time of writing, Anthology Bar is said to be permanently closed on Google, while Curfew is said to be temporarily closed. Leigh Sawmill reopened on December 28, having returned to its previous managers Benjamin and Edward Guinness, sons of the venue's late founder.

In a post to a public Facebook group, one of the Guinness family said the business had returned to the family's control "after years of mismanagement at the hands of a certain Auckland businessman".  

In a piece for The Spinoff published earlier this month, former employees and associates of Cotto and other businesses linked to Anderson made allegations of a difficult working environment, unpaid tips, a high turnover of staff, overdue bills and suppliers not being paid on time. One described it as "a f**king circus behind the scenes".  

In response to the allegations, Anderson told the outlet: "Things have not always worked like clockwork, however we do not agree with the characterisation that behind the scenes the business was a 'circus' or a 'shambles'.

"We engaged a very experienced general manager to effectively run the business and this contract was terminated in mid-November which was a factor in closing the business."