The Wagga Boat Club has been given a welcomed boost with its in-house catering services back up and running again — three weeks after it was closed.
The club’s decision in February was made to combat financial woes from the lack of visitors caused by Lake Albert’s environmental issues.
However, after hearing the news about the club’s issues, head chef Graham Newton decided to lead a catering team to help drive more visitors to the club.
The plans include diverting 10 per cent of revenues to the club.
“I used to work here in 2014 and so I’ve got a special place in my heart for the club,” Mr Newton said.
“First night I worked here, it was Mick Henderson [club commodore] who jumped in and helped with the sink and that saved my butt.
“I’ve never seen that kind of friendship and willingness to see something thrive.
“That’s why I’m so disappointed at where it’s at.
“I know where it can be so let’s get it back there."
Mr Newton said he could not see the club surviving without catering so he approached Mr Henderson to discuss his ideas.
He said the partnership happened quickly after Mr Henderson and other club members welcomed the initiative.
"We were all really stoked and it feels like I’m coming home,” Mr Newton said.
“The more people I can feed, the more I can help the club.”
Revamped menus are in the works, including lunch, dinner, function and ‘light refreshments’.
Mr Newton, who began working in the hospitality industry at 13 years old and continues to show a strong passion for the industry, said his food philosophy is “good, honest food that’s created from scratch”.
“You make a schnitzel by starting with a chicken breast, not from pre-made stuff,” he said.
“It’s worked everywhere I’ve gone so hopefully it works here.
“The other half of the fun is coming to a place to help turn it around.”
However, the 36-year-old said it was not all about him but also the other team members, all of whom he has worked with before and has developed shorthand with.
“On a floor, it’s like a ballet when it runs really well — you need a hand and they have no hesitation in helping you,” Mr Newton said.
As for the persistent environmental issues plaguing the lake, Mr Newton said he hoped to see it full of water again soon.
“It’d be nice to see something actually happen to secure it so things like this don’t happen,” he said.
“It takes a lot of tourism away from here — people need somewhere to stay and that’s a lot of money the town is missing out.”
I used to work here in 2014 and so I’ve got a special place in my heart for the club.Graham Newton, head chef
Mr Henderson said he and other members welcomed Mr Newton’s initiative to help.
“It’s a positive to have all in-house catering for functions and events again,” Mr Henderson said.
“Just so we can offer what we wanted to when it comes to food.
“He previously worked here and wanted to support the club, so he has an insight to how it works and it’s a great thing for the club.”
The new lunch and dinner menus start on Thursday, with the first function being a wedding on Saturday.
In August 2018, the club nearly ceased operations due to financial losses.
However, the club was given a lifeline after members raised more than $15,000 at its AGM.
Wagga City Council’s Envirosonic ultrasound trial to control blue-green algae is continuing.
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