Diners mourn the ‘end of an era’

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Clover Cottage’s future remains uncertain following its private sale to an investment company, which the Gazette understands to have shown interest in purchasing surrounding properties.

Notable members of Berwick and the surrounding community have expressed their sadness at hearing the landmark restaurant was to soon close its doors.

Real estate agent Ross Neilson of First National Neilson Partners said he first dined at Clover Cottage in 1981 when he attended his first Berwick Chamber of Commerce annual general meeting.

“In those days you had to book six months ahead if you wanted to dine on a Saturday night,” Mr Neilson said.

Former state MP Neil Lucas also enjoyed many official functions at Clover Cottage in his capacity member of parliament.

“One of the main reasons for its success is the wonderful ambiance of the restaurant and the knowledge throughout the community that if you go there you’ll have a lovely meal in good surroundings, served by good staff,” Mr Lucas said.

“A lot of local groups used Clover Cottage for fund-raising luncheons and dinners.

“The restaurant has also been the location for many family celebrations and weddings.

“It’s been a much loved and appreciated facility for the Berwick district. It is certainly the end of an era. John, Engelina and Trevor should look back knowing the community appreciate what they have done.”

Mr Lucas said the City of Berwick always held its mayoral dinners at Clover Cottage and the restaurant’s reputation attracted high profile key-note speakers, including several ministers of the crown and at least one premier.

“We used to be readily able to attract key people if they knew the meeting was to be held at Clover Cottage.”

Inner Wheel Club of Berwick’s Pat McCurdy said the group held a number of functions at the venue each year.

Their last function at the cottage would be in November, shortly before the restaurant ceases operation from 1 January.

According to City of Casey’s CEO Mike Tyler, the Manuka Road precinct has been designated as a “future residential zone” in both the State Government’s South East Growth Corridor Plan and the council’s Future Urban Areas Policy.

Berwick Chamber of Commerce past president Harry Hutchinson said he predicted the property would be redeveloped.

“It’s got to be a tragedy. It’s an institution,” he said.

“It’s probably one of the finest dining spots in the region and has been going for well over 30 years.

“I recall going there years and years ago. We’d go up to Clover Cottage for a special, fine dining experience.

“I would think that the property would be redeveloped. The site would make a fantastic residential development.

Mr Hutchinson said that about 25 years ago there had been a push for a retirement village on the site.

“But it never went ahead because a lot of people were against it,” he said.

“I’ll be very sad to see Clover Cottage go. It’s a business full of memories for people who have lived in the area for a long time. It’s a real shame.

“It will leave a gap in the local hospitality industry, that’s for sure. Clover Cottage will be sorely missed.”

Originally published at Pakenham Gazette.


About Alana Mitchelson

Alana Mitchelson is a journalist based in Melbourne, Australia. Follow her on Twitter at @AlanaMitchelson.

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