By Molly Taylor
THE GAMBLE in establishing a permanent cafe during uncertain times has paid off for Hollick Estates as the successful Coonawarra enterprise continues to expand its cultural reach.
After its popular restaurant was forced to close momentarily earlier this year due to COVID-19, the Penola-based wine company experimented ways to continue providing wholesome hearty service to the surrounding community.
The long-standing estate made the decision to launch its Cafe in the Vines during June, after an overwhelming response was received from a temporary on-site food van.
Communicating with council, the Racecourse Road property transformed a heritage-listed cottage into homely, rustic coffee shop.
Restaurant and cafe manager Hannah Timms said although she believed beginning a new business during COVID-19 was a risk, the risk had been worth it.
“It was such a risk, but all we did was hope it was going to succeed,” Ms Timms said.
“It was one of those things where we would rather try and give it a go.
“We now have such an amazing site which is just not one thing, but so many great businesses under the one umbrella.”
Ms Timms said earlier this year when COVID-19 restrictions were implemented, it was common knowledge people were missing daily human interaction.
“For us, we had to close our restaurant and we were stuck working in offices. We soon learnt there is a reason why we are in the jobs we are in,” she said.
“I love talking to people and sharing my passion for food and wine, so I was really missing it.”
Ms Timms said the decision to introduce a food van was made quickly and the response was instantly overwhelming.
“We knew a lot of locals had been at home for so long and people were missing the small things just like the quick hello,” she said.
“We happened to find a food van in Penola and it took just a few bits and pieces to get it together.
“We knew we could not do what we were doing before, but we thought about all the hearty food and drinks we could provide.”
Adopting delivering services, Ms Timms said the plan was to branch out and spread positivity to as many people in the region as possible.
“The whole Limestone Coast region had been quite safe and healthy and things were starting to reopen again,” she said.
“This is when the permanent cafe idea was brainstormed, as a way we could build on our already well-established site and continue provide our quality customer service.”
The cafe is based in a rustic cottage which was formerly Hollick Estates’ original tasting room, having been used as a multi-purpose sitting space over the years.
Ms Timms said there had been ongoing dreams to use the building for everyday use.
“In a couple of weeks after getting approval, we had this gorgeous cafe,” she said.
“We have had people from Adelaide coming down to the region to support the community who said they had never been here before.
“The word spread quickly. I am a big believer in customer service and we are so lucky we have such a kind-hearted community.”
Ms Timms said the establishment of the cafe allowed all staff to remain employed during uncertain times.
“Not only did we reopen our restaurant, but with a cafe and we have grown our business during today’s current climate which is very exciting,” she said.
“As people can not go very far at the moment, we have people coming from across the Limestone Coast just for a drive.
“We are so proud of what this space has created, not only for staff, but also those who walk through the doors.”