Phil Eckersley outside the takeaway window of the Brewhouse Cafe in Grafton.
Phil Eckersley outside the takeaway window of the Brewhouse Cafe in Grafton.

Phil staying the course after rollercoaster start

AFTER 15 years away from his home town in the Clarence Valley working in retail, Phil Eckersley came back to open a cafe at the Grafton Brewery complex.

To say their first months of trade have been difficult would be minor understatement.

"We had 39-degree days in the first week, bushfires, floods, and now someone's decided to sneeze on us," he said.

"It was a huge step, stepping out of retail and moving back to Grafton. We've been really well received and surprised at the response."

Restricted now to takeaway only, Mr Eckersley said their trade had dropped significantly.

"When we put it in, we deliberately had the side window, not thinking that Covid-19 was going to knock on the door," he said.

"It was always going to be a takeaway point for tradies with grease and boot, but this brought it on.

"We're doing the takeaways obviously, and we're putting some procedures in place to offer delivery soon."

Mr Eckersley, who moonlights as a master of ceremonies and wedding DJ, has been using his oration skills to post messages of positivity on Facebook, keeping their social media presence active during the shutdown.

"I've been rambling there from time to time," he laughed. "But it's just something to try and move away from how it's affecting everyone. Yes, that's a given.

"But if you dwell on it, it's going to pull you under.

"We're trying to do our best with a coffee, a bacon and egg role, and (wife) Debbie's smile - and a bit of music playing."

Mr Eckersley said that while they were talking to their bank over freezes and extensions, he said the easy way out would be to just cut and run.

"Once you close the doors there's no trade," he said. "If you shut it, all your bills keep going.

"Even if we're only doing 10 per cent of our trade, 10 per cent of something is better than 100 per cent of nothing, and that's why we're going to stay."

The Brewhouse Cafe is at 170 North St, at the Grafton Brewery Complex.



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