In this strangest of times, the small wins, and small celebrations become so much more important. Today our Byron venue at The Farm Byron Bay turns 5 years old. Instead of a big celebration and excitement for the next 5 years, we’re holding an “everything must go” sale so we can close the doors for the foreseeable future. But we’ll have a quiet toast with whoever comes by and give each other the credit we deserve for what we’ve built here. Then, in a few months, our Bronte venue turns 10, but perhaps again we’ll be “celebrating” not quite in the way we have been planning.
But 10 years in business, building our futures, for us, our families and all the incredible staff we’ve shared our journey with along the way, puts this crazy situation all into perspective. As we prepare to close the last door, on our last venue (everything closed already except our little take away store in Byron) and say “see you soon” to our 230 staff and all the amazing suppliers we’ve worked with along the way, we look back with only the fondest memories and warmest hearts and make a promise to not let this virus break or defeat us – we will be back.
We’ve been blessed to meet the people we have through the years. From the early days in our 18 seat Bronte cafe when we built the tightest community in our little home village, to welcoming thousands of people a week, from all over the world, into what has become one of the largest tourist attractions in Northern NSW. We have seen it all and experienced things we never thought we could have in our wildest dreams, and we’ll collect these memories and hold them with us when we all go our separate ways to hibernate like a bear, through the coming winter, in the lockdown we probably should have had a while back.
To all our incredible friends – our staff through the years (so many amazing legends pop in my mind as I write this that it brings joy to my heart and tears to my eyes), to suppliers that helped us get off the ground, and keep our feet on it, from day one. You’ve let us fall behind in payments and looked after us in tough times, and you’ve been there for the highs, some of you building your own businesses while we’ve built ours. To our locals, our customers, our community. The piece of the puzzle, that we call “our family”, that have enabled us to reach this point. I remember the 1st birthday party in Bronte where we let it all go, we drank all our stock, we flicked each other’s butts with wet tea-towels and went into the early hours with joy and no idea of the incredible journey that lay ahead. It was a crazy night, and some of those blurry faces still grace our venues today and have always visited us, wherever we have opened a door, fired up a coffee machine or poached an egg. We thank you and we will see you again.
We have so many memories, so many amazing people, and that’s what it has always been about for us. We came into this business with an idea to make sure everything that we did, we did well, and to take the best care of the planet as we could along the way. And in the process we attracted people with the same space in their heart for these things we cared so much about. And so we have always seen the best, worked with the best, partied with the best, and grown with the best.
We’re all nearly ten years older, a little greyer and a tad more weathered than when we kicked this thing off, but as we shut the doors we have nothing but joy and love in our hearts and minds and a youthful energy to bounce back when the time comes.
Last of all… to our industry. Hospo is not a competitive industry, but one of those rare ones where we don’t look to beat each other, but to support and lift each other. It’s not about fighting for each customer, but about promoting each other and making sure people are just going out and knowing how good it is out there, and what everyone is doing to make lives and cities richer and more exciting. We are leaders in sustainability, we make sacrifices that other people just wouldn’t understand. The hours we work, the measly money that most of us do it for, it almost makes no sense, but we do it because we love it and because we’re in it together. Stay strong hospo friends and we’ll see you on the other side. When it gets dark, as it will, no more than ever we need each other so reach out – to us, or to someone. This industry, for all it’s wonder and beauty, is also one of too many mental health issues, so please call one of us if you have no one else. We’ll be there for you as so many of you have been there for us over the years.
Thank you for an epic journey so far, happy birthday to us, pop by at The Farm Byron Bay while you still can, and otherwise we’ll see you when this horrid thing fucks off or some smart people find a cure and we’re allowed back out and back to doing what we love.
Love and hugs from The Ducks
Mark, Chris, Sam, Jeff, Daz & Andy x
Photo credit: Kitti Gould