Skip to main content

So long Bretts Wharf, Hamilton


I hope someone told the pelicans that the last meal has sailed from the kitchen of Bretts Wharf on the Brisbane River at Hamilton.

They were lining up on Saturday afternoon as a young chef strolled up and down the boardwalk sharing the kitchen's left overs with an appreciative crowd of pelicans and seagulls in what is obviously a regular event.  They are going to be hungry today.
Rewriting the book on ‘How to close a restaurant with style’, Bretts Wharf co-owner Genny Neilson and Executive Chef Alastair McLeod have finished the final chapter in the restaurant’s history with a block buster weekend of service.

Genny Neilson

When I spoke to Genny on Saturday her concern was to find a job for the one remaining staff member who had not been redeployed.  If you need someone who is excellent at filleting fish and making rice paper rolls, talk to Genny.

The upbeat atmosphere in the restaurant on Saturday was a credit to all involved.

Why did it happen? Here's a statement from the team -

“The business had been doing very well and was achieving record sales results when it suffered a mortal wound in March 2011 when we announced that the Brisbane City Council had resumed Bretts Wharf for road widening. That forced us to cancel all confirmed bookings after January 2012 and to turn away about $2 million worth of future function and catering business in 2012 and beyond” Alastair said.

“Then, in late November 2011, just eight weeks before we were set to close, came the news that the council had changed its mind about Kingsford Smith Drive and we now wouldn’t need to close down”.

What that meant was that this much loved Brisbane icon was placed in the unenviable position of remaining open with the same massive running costs and two thirds of its business (the functions and catering) completely ruined, with no forward bookings and a hugely compromised public confidence. To make matters worse, the business had halted it’s marketing activities and quite logically cancelled all types of annual promotions and advertising activities such yellow pages, annual wedding magazines and so on.

The closure of Bretts Wharf shows how a finely balanced successful restaurant’s operations thrown out of kilter by uncertainty over City Council intentions and minus function and wedding bookings can be too hard to pull back on track. Sometimes hard work, a fabulous location and great food is just not enough.

Alastair McLeod

Alastair McLeod said the last day was ‘a bit like to guy who fell into a vat of varnish - a horrible death but a lovely finish.’  

Bretts Wharf may be closing I’m sure that will not be the last bad joke Alastair tells.  His list of commitments is long and interesting and includes a food inspired tour of Vietnam which I would love to join.

Fans of Alastair’s cooking should find their way to Tank in Tank Street, CBD.  It’s another Genny and Alastair show and is well worth a visit.

Here’s what we ate at our last Bretts Wharf lunch on Saturday 



Comments

  1. It is a great tragedy the way that they were treated by the city council. It really just reaffirms my opinion of city councils in general. It is good to hear that so many staff were able to find other positions and that they were able to close with such good grace. Sad to lose such an institution.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Agreed Theresa. I was heartened by the dedication and effort they put into helping staff find new places.

      Delete
  2. What gorgeous, robust meals these all look. I feel quite sad not to have a chance to eat there again. It's been awhile.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We had a lovely time there on Saturday. I'm sad that we won't be able to do it again.

      Delete
    2. Anonymous2:40 pm

      its an absolute shame yes. Every body I know that has eaten there has been very disappointed.

      Delete

Post a Comment

I love getting your comments - really makes my day! If you like this blog please follow by email or subscribe.

Popular posts from this blog

Brisbane's top 10 'chew with a view' restaurants and cafes

It's a beautiful day! Where can you go and dine in the warm sun with a view that you'll never want to leave?

Here are ten top places in and around Brisbane to while away a lunch hour or a whole afternoon when the weather is warm and the skies are blue .

River Quay, South Bank

South Bank’s River Quay precinct has plenty of opportunities to relax in the sunshine and just about any restaurant at River Quay will offer a great spot for a winter lunch with a large, grassed lawn rolling down to the river bank.  You can even lie in the sun if you so desire.

Stop for champagne, oysters and more at Cove Bar and Dining, enjoy French provincial food at Aquitaine Brasserie, take in the river view from a Balinese daybed while you tuck into the contemporary menu at The Jetty, feast on Italian cuisine at Popolo or sip a long drink on the riverside deck of Stokehouse Q where the menu draws on local produce combined with bold flavours from the Mediterranean.

River Quay is the spot for Sunday …

Thar she blows - how to hunt whales the friendly way

A grunt and a spurt of seawater rising into the air show the position of a mother humpback whale and her three-week-old calf.

I'm on purpose-designed whale watching boat and we have motored for an hour over the calm seas of the great sandy straits up the coastline of Fraser Island





Captain Phil tells the 50 or so people aboard that the tip of the island is where we will see the whales and he is right.

Our first mother and calf are a little shy at first, keeping the boat at a good distance but I can clearly see the much smaller calf swimming strongly beside its mother.




I'm fascinated by the large circles of calm water that float past us and Phil tells us these are whale footprints

"They break the water tension when they flick their tails to swim down resulting in the clear circles on the water,” Phil says.

Sailors used whale footprints to track whales back in the bad old days when whales were valued more for their blubber than their beauty.

Our next mother and calf are a l…

Lunch amongst the lavender in the Scenic Rim

It was time to brush the cobwebs off the motor bike over Easter and head out of Brisbane into the beautiful Scenic Rim.

We started down the highway towards Beenleigh in beautiful autumn sunshine and stopped for a coffee at The Outpost Cafe at Canungra.  This is a well known bikies hangout but don't expect too much in the way of chains and dreadlocks - it's more favoured by the middle aged bikie enjoying the freedom of the road second time round.

The road less travelled is always our favoured route for this type of outing and we back tracked through Rathdowney before reaching our destination for the day, Kooroomba Lavender Farm about 65 minutes from Brisbane in the Scenic Rim at Mt Alford near Boonah.

Autumn is not the premium time for viewing either the vineyard or the lavender but the view across the valley to the mountains was still outstanding.  The building has a New Zealand lodge feel to it with plenty of stone walls both inside and outside, complimented by timber and ex…

Ten top things to do in Noosa Heads

It doesn't matter how many times I head down the hill on Noosa Drive towards the ocean, I still get a little shiver of excitement every time. This very special part of the world has achieved international recognition for its unique environment and I am privileged to be able to dip my toes into it on a regular basis.

Here are ten of my favourite Noosa pastimes.





1. Although it’s always tempting to sleep in, I don't like to waste a moment of the day when I wake up in Noosa. The best way to start is in the coffee queue at Sails on Hastings Street and then a stroll along the winding boardwalk to the National Park, koala spotting along the way.





Depending on my mood and energy level, I continue the walk through the park to enjoy the beachside views. Some like to run it. You can pick up a coffee at the information hut in the national park as well.





2. After a bit of exercise there's nothing like a big breakie at Aromas and a spot of people watching. With t…

Lots to explore at Brisbane's South Bank

Four markets in one day - what a way to spend a Sunday!

We started at the organic markets at Downy Park, Windsor which was not such a good idea. Why? Well we took the dog and the place was full of puddles - he's a corgi with very low legs - it all ended up being very messy.

Also, these markets definitely finish up on their advertised closing time of 10.30am.  Call me slow or just plain lazy but I find it hard to get out and about early on a Sunday morning. We arrived primed for breakfast at 10am just as everyone was shutting up - they had even run out of bread for French toast!

However, this market was just the first on our list. Next, we drove to South Bank Parklands to explore the Young Designers Market and the Granite Belt Flavours Market - both on the same day.

Several designer/clothes/jewellery purchases later, K2 subdued his inner male and agreed to look for the Granite Belt Flavours market which was not in its usual spot.  On the way, we walked through the regular South Ba…