I still get choked up: Gympie cafes, restaurants that failed
WHEN Gympie born baker, TB Condie commissioned Gympie Building Company to demolish, and then construct an arcade of 10 shops in Mary St in 1960, one of the first tenants was a restaurant known simply as The Dorith.
It was considered the height of sophistication in the 1970s and even 1980s.
Over the years the names for Shop 10 Condies Arcade changed to The Black Cat Restaurant and the Raging Bull Steakhouse and others. It was Gympie’s premier dining destination for many years, its most recent incarnation being Dorita’s Cafe.
Countless cafes and restaurants have opened their doors and provided delight and nourishment to the people of the Gympie region in the past 152 years - some of them will likely be remembered and emulated forever.
At the bottom of this article is a full list of all the cafes and restaurants, milk bars and even hotel eateries that Gympie Times readers responded with during a call out this week when asekd to name the local cafes and restaurants they missed most.
Though neither a cafe nor a restaurant, Brodies chicken takeaway, dine-in and drive-through on the corner of the Bruce Highway and Channon Street received easily the most mentions.
Burrito’s Mexican Restaurant
Located out at Lake Alford, the restaurant during the 1980s and early ‘90s was well known not just for their great food but for their cocktails and party atmosphere. It later became CJ’s before finally closing in the late ‘90s.
Le Chat Cafe
Located where Charlies Hotel now sits in Nash St, this restaurant had a dapper looking cat with an earring for its logo. It closed in the early 1990s.
Green Door Cafe
The cafe is still vacant on the corner of Station Rd and Tozer St but was the place to be between 1952, when it opened, and the late ‘80s when it closed.
This unique “hovering” cafe was set halfway between the levels of Cullinane’s Plaza, where Best and Less and the Cullinanes Arcade now are. Before it was a plaza it was a well known and loved department store called Cullinanes (more on this later in the list). It was developed into a plaza in the mid 1980s and featured Gympie’s very first escalator. The cafe and plaza was closed and redeveloped into the arcade in 2002.
Patrick’s Cafe and Patrizi’s by Night
Located in Mary St, just a couple of doors down from Best and Less was Patrick’s Cafe and Carvery. This mid-town cafe featured a sunlit atrium in one wall, allowing a sliver of natural light into the booths that were always crowded with hungry patrons. During the 1990s the cafe briefly opened in the evenings for dinner, becoming Patrizi’s by Night.
Widely recognised as having the best crepes and parfaits in town, this cafe in the James Nash Arcade was always busy until it closed several years back. It then became home to Talking Heads Hair Design.
Fiveways Cafe and corner store
Located at 1 Mary St, the corner store closed around the turn of the century and for a number of years was used as the offices for GJ Gardner Homes Gympie until they moved further up Mary St in 2016. It later also became the new rooms for the Gympie and Cooloola Denture Clinic.
On the opposite side of Mary St next to the SGIO (State Government Insurance Office) Building, the Carousel Cafe was nestled between where Law Essentials and the Gympie Post Office are now.
A staple on the Gympie landscape for about 30 years, Suns Restaurant was in Mary St and the loss of this iconic Chinese Restaurant several years ago was keenly felt. Cafe Charli later opened up at 29 Mary St and then became home to Mamma Dee’s Cafe.
This cafe was located in Mary St, but its exact location is a bit of a mystery.
This Chinese restaurant and take-away was at 19 Tozer St and it too closed in the past few years.
This place holds fond memories for baby boomer locals from when they were children. Located on the same side and just up from the Memorial Park Gates in Mary St, this cafe closed after the 1974 floods. It then became home to Karinya Florist and Delights of India restaurant.
In the same area of Mary St, where Ladybird Lingerie was for the last part of its business life, Cafe Mambo closed right before the 1999 floods. Some polystyrene boxes were in the basement of the property when the flood waters rose. Once the waters receded, however, it was discovered the pressure from the boxes, which could float, had been so extreme, it had cracked the concrete floor of the cafe wide open, demolishing the inside. The cafe never reopened.
Taken from the gympieregoinalmemories.com:
Many years ago Tobin’s Cafe in Mary Street was hailed as the place to go for morning or afternoon tea or lunch.
I remember fondly being taken to the Cafe for a special treat after a day shopping in our then bustling Mary Street. Pie with mashed potato and peas with gravy was considered to fine fare and it was. Homemade dessert followed. Plum pudding, lemon meringue pie or similar with custard and the best cream you have ever tasted. Milk shakes made in metal containers which were then poured into tall milk glasses frothing over the top. Spiders. Now there was a special drink for a hot day. Lemonade poured over several large scoops of ice-cream. Or perhaps you were more adventurous and had a lime spider.
Then in the sixties (I think) Gympie came of age with the opening of the Dorith Restaurant in our brand spanking new Arcade. The Dorith catered for evening meals and receptions of all kinds with its very own chef who would wander out in his whites to talk to patrons. How grand we thought we were to have such a posh restaurant in Gympie.
Gympie was introduced to international cuisine with the opening of Sun’s Chinese restaurant which proved to be very popular with its distinctive decor and flavoursome food.
Unfortunately these icons have closed their doors but the memories linger.
The Atlantic Hotel
Located on the corner of Mary and Monkland streets, the Atlantic opened in 1882 and traded for 101 years under this name before it was bought by Selwyn and Maria Davy who changed the name to Charlies Hotel in 1983. Charlies is now located in Nash St but the Atlantic building is now home to Mama & Papa’s Pizzeria.
On the corner of Channon and Mary streets, The Commercial was established in 1868 as the Mining Exchange and Commercial Hotel. It was closed as a hotel and opened as a restaurant briefly - The Chambers - until it was sold and renovated in 2007 and became The Decks on Mary Restaurant and Cafe and the offices of Gympie Regional Realty.
Originally licensed to a George Thrower in the 1870s, The Freemasons Hotel became a popular night spot and bistro for a number of years in its location on the corner of Channon and Duke streets until the most recent owners went into receivership in 2013.
This impressive hotel was the first glimpse many people had of Gympie when they disembarked at Old Gympie Station. Situated on the corner of Mellor and Chapple streets it started life as the Otago in 1886 and became Allchin’s before finally becoming the Grand Hotel in 1914 and staying that way until in 1951 when a collapsed mine shaft was discovered under its foundations and the building was demolished.
Starting life in the 1868 on the corner of Channon and Nash streets, the Northumberland was the official Cobb and Co booking office and coach terminal. A grand looking building with a three storey turret, it burned to the ground in the early hours of January 21, 1969. It was rebuilt as a modern brick building and re-opened in 1971 as a hotel/motel. It was purchased by the Gympie Regional Council in 2009 and is now their Planning and Development Department.
Golden Sponge Bakery
This bakery used to make the CBD smell amazing at 3am, staggering home from Clix nightclub in the early 1990’s. For many years this bakery and cafe supplied many school tuck-shops with the best Boston buns, cream buns and coffee scrolls.
Other beloved cafes and restaurants that have come and gone:
Mama Rosa’s Pizza in Channon Street - “Best at 2am; the mushroom pizza or the Aussie with an egg”
Thai restaurant in Perseverenece St
Green Door - “Loved the burgers and coffee”
Brodies - “I still get choked up”
Food Shak - “Best chips in town”
Cafe in Cullinanes Plaza - “Was sunken and had an escalator”
Kenny’s Kitchen and his $5 smorgasboard takeaway
Carousel Cafe - “Best potato scallops and chips back in the late 60s early 70s when the McCafferty family owned it.”
Fiveways Cafe - burgers (when Ricketts owned it)
Freemasons Hotel Steakhouse
Mexican Merves in Mellor Street
Cold Rock Ice cream
Burger and All on Mellor Street
Cafe La Rock
Scottish Drive-in during interval
We salute you all.