A giant artwork commissioned for the Charcoal Tavern many years ago is still popular with diners seeking an intimate and romantic experience similar to what the iconic eatery was famous for.
And it is happening at an Albion Park venue with its own proud history.
When Hilton and Marianne King sold the Charcoal Tavern building and realised it was not going to remain a restaurant they kept the large painting that graced the western wall of the Wollongong's favourite eatery.
They initially put it their garage but when soon realised there was another venue with similar heritage and feel. So they called Jim and Deborah McCallum to ask if they would like to hang it on a wall at Ravensthorpe.
Mr McCallum said it continues to be a favourite with many diners who request that room when they book
"We carried it around the house trying to find a wall that was big enough and this was the only one. I think it was very significant that it came to another restaurateur," Mrs McCallum said.
Seven years on and there is now discussion about whether to loan the giant artwork to the new Charcoal Tavern when it opens in October to help recreate some of the same atmosphere as the original eatery.
The McCallum's would love to keep it at Ravensthorpe but understand why it would be such a nice gesture for the community to enjoy.
The King's feel Ravensthorpe is the perfect location to preserve such a wonderful piece of Illawarra dining history but also know how many people would enjoy seeing it at the new Charcoal Tavern. They want to keep the painting in the region and both families want to do what is best for Wollongong and Shellharbour.
The story goes that the artist painted himself into the picture and the two families are interested in learning more such as how it is based on a famous Renoir oil painting.
Fountaindale Group director Jennifer Macquarie will help Illawarra Women in Business continue its journey back to networking in person on September 4 when she is the guest speaker at the next IWIB lunch.
Mrs Macquarie is not only a partner of the property development company but chair of the Illawarra/Shoalhaven chapter of the Property Council and is a Division Councillor of the NSW chapter of the Property Council.
Why shopping local is so important
Australian Bureau of Statistics and Treasury data shows more than 43 per cent of companies in the Wollongong local government area were accessing the Federal Government's JobKeeper program in May.
Analysis of the data by actuarial consultancy Taylor Fry revealed 7.1 per cent more Wollongong businesses are accessing JobKeeper than the national average, highlighting the impact inflicted on local businesses by the COVID-19 pandemic.
It is thought the result is partly due to the local economy's exposure to accommodation and food businesses, as well as construction.
The Council of Small Business Organisations Australia said the analysis highlights the scale of the challenges faced by small businesses in the city and the need for people to spend locally whenever they can.
"Areas like Wollongong have been hit hard by this pandemic," chief executive Peter Strong said.
"Small businesses support local surf clubs and sports teams. They support schools and bring character to neighbourhoods. Whenever you are making a spending decision, think about these businesses and go local first.
"So whether it's for meal deliveries, shopping for groceries, getting some accounting work done or some maintenance on your home or place of work, consider how you can support your community and go local first."
Taylor Fry principal Alan Greenfield said the analysis shows the impact of COVID-19 restrictions varies between neighbouring Local Government Areas. And centres most impacted are tourist and residential areas.
The in-depth geographical analysis of JobKeeper payments can be viewed at https://taylorfry.com.au/articles/jobkeeper-reliance-may/. And COSBOA is running a six-month campaign supported by the Federal Government encouraging people to go local first.
How business can support business
Wollongong publican Ryan Aitchison is an advocate of all businesses doing as much as they can in the region to help each other out.
The Illawarra hotel is replacing international brands with locally made beers, spirits and wine and sourcing local produce.
Mr Aitchison believes if more do that patrons will get a taste for more local and actually ask for world class locally produced food and beverages when they walk in.
"Big change will happen when consumer habits change and they start holding businesses accountable. It will start a huge cultural shift where people come to Wollongong and the Illawarra knowing that it is going to be a really rich regional experience.
Mr Aitchison said he knew such an approach had already been adopted successfully by restaurants in the Shoalhaven and the South Coast but not so much by hotels further north. He thinks that is because there are so few independent pubs left and all the bigger operators are on deals with national and global suppliers.
He said going local was not just about stocking a few local products. It was about going out of your way to commit to favouring locally made products and locally grown produce.
"That is a good thing about being a small independent pub," he said.
"If it can kick off on a large scale it will be such a big source of employment. And more employment in that kind of industry can only be good for the region.
"Even though we are small on a good day we will spend up to $40,000 on food and beverage.
"If we can divert even 70 to 80 per cent of that to local producers that is a huge shot in the arm. And if other pubs go down that road imagine what that would mean for the local economy."
Movers and Shakers is a new weekly feature of people doing significant work in or for the Illawarra community
Do you have an interesting business story you would like to share? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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