Julie-anne Sprague shows she’s got a nose for a bit of gossip with this week’s news of a change at the top of a well-known city restaurant.

THE rumours going around town about the departure of a director of the chic C Restaurant are as glamorous as the restaurant’s showbusiness image.

Pete Clements and his father, Ken, announced they had sold their controlling interest in the restaurant last week, which sent the hospitality tongues wagging. Why on earth leave such a good, money-making establishment?

Gusto caught up with Pete this week to find out if any Hollywood-style goings on surrounded his departure.

Pete denied there was anything but a profit motive in the decision.

“There is such a tall poppy syndrome in Perth. Someone young comes in and makes some money … people don’t get it. This decision was based simply on profit,” he said.

Pete said he and his father were made a lucrative offer for their majority shareholding in the business about a month ago. He said third director Phil Clements (no relation) did not want to sell his shares in the business.

“As far as we (Pete and Ken) are concerned we are incredibly happy with the outcome. I worked from the concept in October 2000, and that’s when I invited Phil into the deal, and it’s gone great guns since then, considering neither of us had a restaurant background,” Pete said.

Like a true businessman, Pete said he had a few things up his sleeve. Gusto will keep you posted on the developments.

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Well, well, well, where is the silver lining on this darkened cloud hovering over The Silver Dollar in Northbridge? Lessee Chris Thomas has abandoned the restaurant he signed a lease for earlier this month. He hired staff (including restaurant manager William Barry and head chef Alex Fairbarn) and had ordered furniture, kitchen equipment, stock and other items in anticipation of the restaurant’s opening last week.

But the doors never opened and Mr Thomas cannot be contacted.

Previous owners Michael Burokas and Chris Lyons went bankrupt after running the restaurant for just more than 12 months.

The company administering the lease of The Silver Dollar is Ron Farris Real Estate. Director Ron Farris said Mr Thomas had not officially made him aware that he had left the business but a staff member had contacted him. He said the staff member had the keys to the restaurant, which would be collected. Mr Farris said he had new tenants lined up and would be able to confirm further details next week.

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Burswood chefs Robert Wardworth and Sean Jones accompanied executive chef Erwin Schick on a visit to the aircraft carrier USS John C Stennis, in Fremantle last week. Robert, the Resort’s banquet sous chef, said he chose to climb aboard the exchange program for experience.

“I want to have a look at the kitchen and the galley and to see the other side of catering,” he told Gusto before boarding the ship on the weekend.

“I want to see how they do things in such volume. In such a small kitchen they cook 5,000 meals.”

Robert said he would have to cater for up to 1,000 people at any one time.

And so what did the boys cook up on the Sunday? The American sailors got treated to some Aussie fare – kangaroo pie, barramundi kebabs and kangaroo prosciutto. Robert said his stint in the mess was well worth it.

“They’ve obviously got manufacturers in and made things to fit. Everything has its place and every nook and cranny is utilised, there is no wasted space,” he said.

“They pack the cool room right to the door. We have ours stacked at the hotel but you can walk right in and have a good look around.”

And would he jump on board again? “Definitely, it was really good.”

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Bryce Madgwick has been appointed head chef at Picknicks Restaurant. Owner Nick Skinner said there had been a lot of interest in the position, including a number of highly reputable chefs. But he gave the nod to the former sous chef at Mead’s, who comes in to the restaurant at its busiest time. Since Nick introduced his dinner set menu the restaurant has been thriving.

“We’re at the value end of the market. We’re not you’re $10 cafe but we’re not your Jackson’s or Perugino,” he said.

“And we’re finding we’re getting regular customers at that level.”

The set dinner is priced at $37.50 and includes a bottle of Evans and Tate wine between two.

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New cafe, La Via (meaning ‘the street’ or ‘the way’) will be situated on the busiest business street in town, St Georges Terrace, and will provide the business community with a wide variety of lunch fare, coffee, and cakes.

Owners of the site, located next to the Chifley Hotel, husband and wife team Joe and Gina Di Carlo, are currently training staff and putting the finishing touches to the 70sq m site.

They previously owned La Via in Canning Vale but sold the venture to move into the corporate heartland.

“We want to have a big presence in town,” Mr Di Carlo says.

“We will have home-made cookies, a range of cakes and slices and plenty of coffee. We will serve a large variety of things – Turkish bread, foccacias, a variety of rolls, sushi, and all the continental fillings you can think of.”

And with the winter months approaching, a nice hot dish of lasagne or chicken cacciatore will keep your belly warm and palate satisfied.

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Il Principe Gran Caffe will begin opening for breakfast in the coming weeks. Starting at 7.30am onwards, the popular Italian restaurant will be cooking up a full breakfast. Umberto Tineli is waiting for the menu to return from the printers and then we can expect the bacon to be sizzling.

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