14/09/2011 - 10:30

LoQuay approach all in the family

14/09/2011 - 10:30

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Jacki Harry and her father, Noel Ogden, are targeting the residential and business communities with the offering at their riverside cafe. Carolyn Herbert reports.

LoQuay approach all in the family
NEXT STEP: Jacki Harry and Noel Ogden want to grow the events side of their business and redevelop the kitchen. Photo: Madoka Ikegami

DESPITE retiring in 2006 after more than 30 years in hospitality, Noel Ogden decided to don his chef’s whites once again and open LoQuay River Café with his daughter, Jacki Harry, at the start of this year. 

Located on the banks of the Canning River in Riverton, LoQuay has fast become a popular meeting spot for business people and locals, with its homemade fare and uninterrupted river views among the prime attractions. 

No stranger to the restaurant business, Mr Ogden has owned and operated the Catch of the Day restaurant in Fremantle, The Subiaco Steak House and Milston Gardens in the Swan Valley. 

Following in her father’s footsteps, Ms Harry has been involved in numerous hospitality roles during the past decade, including management roles at the Indiana Tea Rooms in Cottesloe and Fraser’s Restaurant.

She saw the opportunity to take her career in a new direction after reading an email from the City of Canning calling for tenders for a new cafe being built on the river foreshore at Riverton. Ms Harry told Gusto that, after visiting the construction site with her father, she immediately knew she wanted to put a business case to the council. 

“We presented a concept of casual, low-key dining,” Ms Harry says.

“We didn’t want anything formal or upmarket because there are quite a few spots on the river around Perth that are like that, so we wanted to cater for the majority, not just the exclusive market.”

Mr Ogden and Ms Harry won the tender for LoQuay from more than 35 applicants. 

“We didn’t offer anything over the top,” Mr Ogden says.

“We had to put an offer in for the rent and do a complete business plan and presentation to show them what we wanted to do, and they must have liked what we had to say.” 

Ms Harry says it was important to ensure the cafe appealed to both the residential and business communities of the area. 

“The idea was really to make it appeal to everyone,” she says. 

 “There are a lot of people on bikes and canoes and even local business people who have their meetings here, and we wanted them all to be able to drop in and afford a coffee and a muffin.” 

However, coming out of retirement and returning to the workforce full time, initially proved very difficult for Mr Ogden.  

“I can say coming out of retirement and putting in 100 hours a week was quite a challenge and I had some real issues with sore knees and feet,” Mr Ogden says.

“There was only me in the beginning and we didn’t know what to expect; people just kept coming in the door.”

Space issues have also been an ongoing difficulty for the father-daughter team, who say they had no real input in the cafe’s design. 

“When the council redeveloped this site there was an existing little kiosk here, and because the Swan River Trust had certain restrictions in place the council had to use that floor print and they couldn’t go any bigger,” Ms Harry says.

“We wanted to have a say in how the kitchen was fitted out, but the council had already contracted that out and made the decision on what equipment was being put in ... so I suppose not having the freedom to do what we knew was needed was quite tough.”

Steady trade since the cafe opened in January has required staff numbers to be bulked up to more than 20. 

Ms Harry told Gusto she is now starting to experience the staffing issues that are so commonly cited by hospitality businesses. 

 “The team we put together was sensational and they stayed with us up until this point, but we’ve just started to lose those people now because hospitality is quite transient… so it has come to that eight-month mark and they are starting to move on,” she says.

Mr Ogden and Ms Harry hope to further develop the cocktail events part of their business, apply for a liquor licence and continue to redevelop the kitchen. 

 

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