Monday, August 05, 2013

STILL CRUISING DOWN THE RIVER….OR TIED UP TO THE JETTY! THE LAUNCHING OF “THE LAGUNA BELLE”



A newspaper clipping from "The Noosa News" about Randall and me taking over management of "The Laguna Belle".
"The Laguna Belle" at sunset. And another newspaper cutting. (I apologise for the quality)
Sunshine Beach

Duke Street circa 2013...about where Dougie's fruit shop used to be back in the Eighties...the good old days!

Another view of Duke Street, Sunshine Beach - circa 2013



Circa 2013...what is now named "Jeffery Cuddihy & Joyce - known as "Tozer & Jeffery" when I worked there from the early to mid-Sixties.
  Sir Horace Tozer (23 April 1844 - 20 August 1916) was an Australian lawyer and politician. Tozer was son of H. T. N.Tozer. He was born at Port Macquarie, April 1844. He was admitted to practise as a solicitor at Brisbane in 1866. He settled at Gympie; established a successful practice and was alderman in the town's first council; elected in 1880. In 1888 he was elected to the Legislative Assembly where he was Colonial Secretary in the second Griffith ministry from August 1890 to March 1893. He held the same position in the McIlwraith-Nelson ministry until October 1893; and was home secretary in the Nelson ministry until March 1898.


 Further to my “Cruising Down the River on a Sunday Afternoon! Well, That Was the Plan!” post that I wrote in early July, I thought I’d continue drifting along the river of memories of my days and nights spent on Noosa’s floating/cruising restaurant. 

And what better way to start than at the beginning…

When Randall and I were approached to go in as managers of “The Laguna Belle”, the cruising restaurant, I was employed as a legal secretary at a local firm of solicitors/lawyers in Tewantin; “Bergman & Reeve”.  Their main office was in Hastings Street, Noosa.  I worked for Chris Reeve in the Tewantin branch office. 

Yes…that was his real name; but he didn’t wear blue tights with red underwear worn on the outside; and he didn’t sport a cape; nor was there a huge "S" emblazoned upon his chest.  He did, however, spend a lengthy amount of time each morning in the toilet, so, perhaps, anything was possible.  I never had the heart to check on his movements…if you know what I mean!

Years previously, four months before I turned 16 years of age, my first place of employment was with a law firm in Gympie.  I left high school to become a legal secretary.  When I applied for the position, I didn’t even know what a solicitor was!  In reality, I was an innocent, unworldly 15 year old child.  I knew solicitors had something to do with law; but that was about all I knew!


About six months after moving to the coast we bought our house in Sunshine Beach where we began our own real estate agency. Randall held a real estate license, having studied for it when we were still living in Brisbane, and he was working for a real estate company in Toowong; an inner city suburb.

We operated out of our home office that we’d set up on the lower level. Randall took care of the sales side of the business, and I, the office duties, along with rental properties.  I did manage to sell one house to George and Cindy Beasley who ran a popular menswear store in Hastings Street Noosa during those years.  The house I sold to them was my one and only sale; a sale about which I was very proud!  However, my heart (or, in reality, confidence) wasn’t in selling; in the sale of property, anyway.

In the early Eighties the economy had a huge hiccup, not only in Australia, but worldwide. Because of the economy’s nose-dive it became a time of transition for us, too; hence my finding outside employment.  We sold our house in Elanda Street, Sunshine Beach; and moved into a little cottage we’d bought a year or so earlier down around the corner a bit; in Duke Street, Sunshine Beach.  It was built on two blocks of designated commercial land; closer to the beach.  We’d virtually closed our real estate office.  Randall still took in listings and sold properties. He had portfolio of clients; both buyers and sellers.  Most of Randall’s time was spent convincing buyers that it wasn’t a good time to invest in property; to try to hold onto what they owned, and, if possible, to the money they had.  We might have been cutting our noses off to spite our faces, but we had to be able to look ourselves in the mirror; and sleep straight in bed at night.  We’d scaled down our small operation even further because of the state of the economy.

His honesty with the clients always impressed me, and I believed it to be very admirable on his part.

To reach the few local Sunshine Beach businesses, which, back in the early Eighties consisted of Dougie Robinson’s greengrocery store, a surf board shop, a small grocery shop with a restaurant and a French patisserie operating on the upper level; all of which were situated across the road from the foreshore, beach and ocean; we had to walk a grand distance of about 200 metres (218 yards), give or take, along a well-worn track that branched off from the side of our tiny weatherboard cottage; past a banksia tree that we’d christened “The Banksia Lounge”; I’ll explain the naming in more detail in a later post; through untamed grasses that grew out of the sandy slope leading down to the Duke Street shops.

So there I was back in the arms of the law, pounding the beat on a typewriter, when the restaurant offer was placed on the table; across our dining room table, in fact. 

As I wrote previously, we jumped at the offer. 

My initial intention was to continue working nine-to-five - Monday to Friday as  a legal secretary to Chris in the Tewantin office; and then, in the evenings assist Randall in the running of “The Laguna Belle”.   

 It didn’t take me very long to see the folly of my plan!

The pull of the restaurant was far too strong for me to withstand; the excitement of the hospitality industry too alluring for me to ignore.  Without further ado and time-wasting, I handed in my resignation to Chris, telling him I was sorry if I appeared to be letting him down, but my loyalties were with my husband; and I knew had to join him in the running of “The Laguna Belle”.

Living next door, a few yards across the way from us, not on the ocean side, in small cottage similar to our own was a married couple with a toddler.  Phil, the husband was the second chef at a very popular Noosa restaurant.   

“Barry’s Restaurant” was on the beachfront at Laguna Bay, Noosa Heads.  At the time it was the most popular restaurant in the area.  We used to love going to “Barry’s”; and did so often even when we were still living in Brisbane before relocating to the coast.  We’d head off after work on a Friday afternoon, with “Barry’s” our destination.  The memories of that restaurant still hold a special place in my heart; even though the restaurant no longer exists, and hasn’t done so for years. Sadly, Barry Ritter, the owner, passed away five or so years ago.

The stage was set; time rapidly drew closer for us to lower the “Belle’s” boarding plank; and raise the curtains; the day for us to take over the restaurant neared. 

Filled with excitement, my energies went into planning a new menu for “The Belle”.  Food orders had to be placed. The pantry and cold room needed replenishing. The bar needed re-stocking.  There was a lot to put into place before we were ready to open the restaurant’s door for our debut into a whole new world.

It was a grey Monday; intermittent, misty showers tried, unsuccessfully, to interrupt the flow of the day.  The floor our tiny cottage’s main room was covered in recipe books, cooking magazines, note pads, pens and coffee mugs, leaving little room to move about. Conveniently, it was Phil, our neighbour’s day off from his work.  Having heard about our future plans he was keen to join me on our magazine and book cluttered floor as I ploughed through recipes. 

All morning we bounced ideas back and forth between us.  Jokingly, Randall and I offered him a job. We light-heartedly suggested he leave “Barry’s”; to come work for us as our chef.  The operative word was “joking”; but to our amazement he said he’d think about it! 


At that point in time, our plans were for me to handle the cooking side of things until we could find ourselves a chef to take over that position.


Before week’s end, Phil decided he’d join us in our exciting new venture. Of course, Randall and I were over the moon. However, Barry Ritter wasn’t too thrilled at Phil's decision; neither was “Mumbles” the head chef at “Barry’s Restaurant”.  “Mumbles” had a great reputation around town; his food was beyond compare in those days.

As well as unexpectedly gaining an excellent chef, Phil introduced us to a friend of his whom he’d previously worked with, and whom he vouched was an extremely efficient kitchen hand.  He described Jill as being quick on her feet; and as being one who needed little direction; that she knew her way around commercial kitchens. He assured us when the pressure was on in the kitchen, Jill was a godsend.   

Taking him at his word, we hired Jill on the spot at our first meeting. She exuded a good nature, confidence, speed and restaurant/food knowledge.  She never disappointed. Jill was a pleasure to work with; she knew what she was doing, and what had to be done. When the pressure was on, so was she; when it was time to have some relaxing fun, she was an expert at that, too!  

More was yet to come...

Phil’s younger brother, Ken, whose daylight hours were spent surfing was in need of a job.  Ken’s sun-bleached hair and golden-tanned body were testament to the hours he spent under the sun catching waves.  Ken was hired for the “dish pit”.  In other words, he was to be our hands-on, manual dishwasher.  After a false start, he soon cottoned on to what needed to be done; and done fast! 

Ken, although a pleasant, good-mannered young lad had only one speed – slow; very slow, would be a better description.  He moved slower than a snail. When he spoke, which wasn’t often, not being one to instigate a conversation, he spoke slowly, too.  He was never in a hurry it seemed. I doubted there would be any emergency that would speed up his movements.  Life, to Ken, was meant to be unhurried and unharried.  That was about to change - we put a fire cracker up his butt! 

I didn’t care how slow he operated when not working, but once he set foot on “The Belle” he soon learned that life on board the restaurant moved at a more rapid rate of knots!

I've witnessed a few, uninitiated dishwashers during the years I spent in commercial restaurants. I shared in and saw their first time out in the real world of restaurant kitchens!  So many have, when they first started working in a kitchen, thought dish washing a breeze.  No amount of telling those "wet-behind-the-ears" to “keep ahead of the game”; not to let dishes, pots, pans and cutlery build up; to remain standing over the sinks; to keep washing, washing, washing worked.  They had to learn the hard way!
 
But, of course, these young blades know everything…until that first time when, before they know what has happened around them, they’re confronted with a pile of dirty plates, pots, pans and cutlery; a pile higher than Mount Everest - with no room to move! And, more dishes, pots and pans coming at them from all angles!

It only happens once; that first time.  Their lesson is learned…and it's a hard lesson!



Our staff members grew in numbers.  Next we hired Melinda, our local Sunshine Beach fruit and veggie man, Dougie’s niece to become our first waitress; and then, Sue joined our mad crew. Both were lovely young girls who shared shifts waiting on the tables.  Sometimes we needed only one girl on the job; other times, particularly the weekends, both lasses worked in harmony, serving our happy customers.

Halfway along the jetty that gave access to the “Laguna Belle” was a little fish and chip shop.  It, also, was under our jurisdiction as it was a part of the “Belle” business. It was up to us to operate the fish and chip outlet.

There is another whole story attached to that little shop attached to the jetty that “The Belle” was attached to when dockside! 

I’ll leave the tale of the fish and chip shop for another day…..

And, also,  my stories about "The Belle" don't stop here.....I have a few others to tell about "The Belle"....


(The photos above of Duke Street, Sunshine Beach depict a totally different landscape to when Randall and I lived in Sunshine Beach.  Our little cottage was just up around the corner from those businesses shown; at that time the property we owned consisted of the cottage built, straddling two commercial blocks of land...the last two commercial blocks of land in Sunshine Beach at that time...in the early to mid-Eighties.  Unfortunately, after we separated we were unable to hold on to the property.  Of course...a few years later, it went for a great deal of money; and a high-rise apartment block was built on the land; with a luxurious penthouse at the top...commanding magnificent ocean and beach views.

Oh! Well....that's life....one should never look back in regret.  We can't change the past and what has happened...but we can ensure our memories remain; and those memories are remembered fondly).

15 comments:

  1. Wow. Jumping in boots and all...

    And I love the idea of a real estate agent with ethics. I know they exist, but they are thin on the ground.

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  2. Hello, EC...there are agents out there with ethics; it's just that we don't hear about them; those without ethics are more newsworthy...so they get more media attention.

    It's nice to see you, EC...I hope all is going well for you and yours down your way. :)

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  3. I'll bet that was a lovely time - running that cruising restaurant.

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  4. Enjoyed your memories and await the next chapter. I did have to LOL at the very slow Ken and fire cracker bottom. LOL Peace

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  5. I feel totally transported! I'm ready for the next chapter too. Chris Reeve? One of my classmates from high school's dad is named Tom Hanks.

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  6. G'day, Lynn...we had some good times...some funny times, too. It was a great experience; and one I'm glad we had.

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  7. G'day Lady Di...I often wonder where Ken ended up. He was a good kid, but his leisurely pace used to be very frustrating at time! ;)

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  8. Hey here RC. I'm glad you're enjoying my cruisey Belle tales. :)

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  9. Alas, oh how I wish there were more realtors with your integrity. I obtained a broker's licence in 1995 or 96, but my idea for a buyer's brokerage never made it off of the drawing board. I have also had fantasies of establishing a really cool restaurant/honky tonk, but it has only progressed to the point of being a part of an unpublished book. By the way, you were a genuine babe back then (and still are, for that matter)!

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  10. Hiya Jerry...there are good and bad in all walks of life; but, unfortunately, the bad seem to remain more memorable in our minds.

    Restaurants are very "full-on"...but are also lots of fun. They have a "life" of their own...one full of pressure and "theatre"...but that's all part of the allure, I guess.

    Thanks for dropping by, Jerry; and thanks for your kind words. :)

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  11. Ha! Your plan was like ours when we started our restaurant. Wife thought she could keep her old job in mornings and get back in time for lunch rush. Luckily, we never tried to follow through with that plan either.

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  12. I spent two weeks as a washer upper.
    Now I'm just washed up.

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  13. Hi Dexter...the best laid plans of mice, men and women!

    The thought was there, but as you know, it would never have worked!

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  14. G'Day Adullamite...some would say two weeks is long enough in the dish pit! lol

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