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Terry O’Donnell

He’s the charismatic Irishman who’s been shaking up the Coast’s cocktail scene for the last five years but as of 2018; Terry O’Donnell is stepping out solo.

You may have sipped his clever creations at some of your favourite drinking holes – Bonita Bonita, Hellenika, Justin Lane and No Name Lane to ahh name a few.

Now though, Terry and his cocktail making bar biz, The Irish Shakes, are coming to a party near you. At your house if you like (and trust us, you’ll like).

We sat down for a chat with Terry about coming up with the tastiest of flavour combinations and how you can have him to shake things up at your next party.

How long have you been a Gold Coast local?
I arrived on the Gold Coast around September 2012, originally to do my farm work because us immigrants need to do our public service for the Australian good. After the farm work, I started working in Onyx in Broadbeach so that was my first bar work on the Coast. It was super fun working there. I came to Australia because I spent time working in East Hampton and I loved how happy people were at the beach. Ireland seasonally affects a lot of people; it’s a completely different culture. I love getting up early with morning sun, in Ireland its dark for so long and that does really affect me. That’s what I think subconsciously drew me to Australia.

What do you love most about living here?
Well the weather obviously but the people as well. I love how stoked everyone is to live here; it’s something I haven’t experienced. In Ireland a lot of the time, your first thing is to complain about the weather, not always but there is that sort of feeling here where people are generally super happy. It changes your whole vibe. Even when I lived I Sydney, it wasn’t the same as the Coast. So I love the vibe of this town.

Tell me about The Irish Shakes and how you got to where you are…
I got the idea for The Irish Shakes when I was working at Justin Lane. I had heard about the guys at Justin Lane when I was managing the bar at Bonita Bonita at the time, which was my first time writing cocktail menus. I learnt a lot there about how we constantly need to learn in hospitality. The bar at Bonita was quite separate so I also learnt a lot about not just having a good cocktail list but how to create a good vibe and have good customer service.

After Bonita I knew I had to learn more if I wanted to go somewhere. I saw the guys at Justin Lane knew a lot about how to run a business so when I got there I paid attention to what they were doing well and tried to learn from them. A couple of customers I knew from Bonita started to come in for drinks and they kind of became friends. One of them was having a 40th and asked me to come bartend so I said yes, bought a bit of gear and went and did it out of their kitchen sink. That was the first one. It was really fun and I felt like I could definitely do it all the time. Then I started to think about it and talk to James from Anchored Cinema and he said it was a good idea so that’s where it started. I had a lot of help from James and last year I made it into an official business. The first year was all about learning, getting more equipment, learning how to cater to 40 people on my own and having the setup where I could do it alone.

I did a lot of house parties and learnt a lot about how to run things. I wanted to offer a more affordable style of service where I could do smaller parties, like 20 or so people but then also cater to bigger parties with say 200 people. The people I bring to work with me at parties are from the best bars on the Gold Coast a lot of the time – Etsu, Aloha, the top bar tenders who know exactly what they’re doing.

What happens when people hire The Irish Shakes for a party?
We work with people every step of the way. I usually ask them their favourite cocktails and get an idea about how much interest they have in picking them. Sometimes people just want me to do it so we work out the budget and break things down for them. We look after all the ingredients as well, prep them all and bring them to the party.

Which venues have you created cocktails menus for?
I’ve always been really interested in the consulting side of things and the first project I did was at Sandbar in Surfers Paradise. They wanted a rebrand of what was an institution in Surfers Paradise; everyone knew the place for their buffet and beers so Jake got me in and I did 21 cocktails for them. I like to find out the clientele and work a cocktail list around what the venue sees that clientele drinking, which can be a challenge in Surfers. We had a lot of classics and a lot of beach style tiki drinks then did girlier styles and some a bit more targeted  to men and then some morning ones too. That’s where I saw myself getting more into consulting. I just finished at project with No Name Lane and I did a classic menu with Hellenika, which was cool. I enjoy creating cocktail and wine lists that really compliment the food and vibe of a venue.

Do you have a personal fave from your long list of creations?
Bonita was the first menu I did that started to gain a little bit of recognition in the media cocktail comps. The first year we did it, we won best cocktails on the Coast and that’s when I realised I do make alright drinks. I love Mezcal and being able to play around with Mezcal drinks in Bonita was awesome. Making a Mezcal old fashioned with chocolate bitters, that was one of my favourites, with a nice big ice ball with orange frozen in the middle, I loved that. At No Name Lane most of them I liked but the Lemon Sorbet Spritz is really, really tasty. We made an Acai Berry Mojito with Acai puree and an Acai syrup, which was delicious.

What do you drink when you go out?
I had an AWESOME Negroni in Iku last night from Adam Bastow, he’s next level. He made his own Vermouth and he had an Australian-style Campari and an Australian gin, it was unreal. One of the nicest Negronis I’ve ever had. I like boozy drinks, I don’t like much fruit juice andI like the alcohols in cocktails to compliment each other.

What are your thoughts on the Coast’s growing food and beverage scene?
I love it. When I have money I go out and spend it and I think you have to find a balance and not go out and blow all your earnings on beautiful dinners. But, places like Lupo and Harry’s have unbelievable Chefs, even Josh at No Name Lane, they’re incredible so it’s hard not to go out. I hear a lot of people say the Coast is behind Melbourne and Sydney in terms of food and drink but I think that gap is getting much smaller. The quality of bar tenders up here is getting so good too. Mitch and Nerissa have created some of the best restaurants I’ve ever eaten at in the world (Etsu, Iku and Commune), their eye for detail is incredible. The Coast’s scene definitely suits my personality, which is why I’m still loving all of this.

Anything exciting in the pipeline?
I’m looking to grow the consultancy side of things a lot but I’m also looking to a couple of projects with the bartenders I mentioned. I want to try and grow bar tending on the Coast because I’ve always found that trying to get quality people that are willing to learn is quite hard. I want to do a traineeship for young guys coming up, so not like a Tafe thing but more cocktail based and learning from people who in the industry at the moment. I think there’s definitely a lot of people keen to get involved.

Got any life advice for us?
Probably that money is not a driving factor in life. Personally I’d rather be creative, be my own boss and make whatever money I make. I don’t think people realise a lot of the time you’re selling your time to someone. I think if you try to be yourself as much as possible, the Universe reciprocates that and gives you things that will make you happy.

Tell us your favourites on the Coast…
Restaurant: At the moment Lupo in Mermaid, unbelievable food, great wine, great vibes. Etsu, Iku, Commune. Sparrow is great, so underrated
Bar: Cambus Wallace is number one in my heart, can’t fault it
Beach: It’d have to be Burleigh
How does your weekend usually look: On the wrong side of the bar, serving drinks

Morgan Walsh

She’s the brains behind two of your favourite local venues, Bonita Bonita and Poké Poké, and now the busiest gal on the Gold Coast is at it again.

Get excited gang, Morgan Walsh is opening a Chinese diner called FuFu and it’s going to blow your minds. It’ll taking up the (rather large) Mermaid Beach space where Burger Fuel, Bernie’s and Ashby Bines Clean Eating Kitchen once lived.

We sat down for a chat about Chinese bento boxes and in-your-face pink velvet.

How long have you been a Gold Coast local?
It has been nearly 12 years now, time goes so quickly these days. I moved over here from Auckland because I’m not really a big city girl. I like the sun, the beach, warm weather and I think once you get a taste of this lifestyle, it’s hard to go back to the hustle and bustle when you can do the same things in a beautiful place. 

What do you love most about living here?
Definitely the lifestyle, it’s just so relaxing. I think being in this industry, there are lots of great opportunities to open venues that have a point of difference and suit the Gold Coast market. Gold Coasters have a certain style; you don’t really find places like Poké Poké in Melbourne and Sydney. People like that restaurant vibe here so it works perfectly with the style of businesses and direction I want to go in.

Tell us about your latest venue, FuFu…
Yes FuFu. Originally the idea was to go Chinese but you always start somewhere and things change. It’s now more of a Chinese diner in style. The fit out is going to be a little bit crazy, definitely in your face and will definitely stand out from the crowd. There’s lots of great modern Asian inspired restaurants already, so rather than compete with that market, I want this to be in the same vein as Poké Poké with that casual feel to it where you can walk off the beach and come grab a quick bite. Nothing fancy just really laid back and fast food made friendly. So the food will be things like bao burgers and cheeseburger spring rolls and a little play on bento boxes. So Chinese style bento boxes which will be a meal for one that has say sweet and sour pork, wonton, fried rice and all as a package, so you don’t have to share and at a really good price. Dining has gotten so expensive so having places that people can come to more often is where I want my businesses to head. We’re going to have Chinese inspired cocktails and some ridiculous milkshakes, all in the same diner vein.

Your venue interiors are always beautifully quirky, any insight on what FuFu will look like?
Think pink velvet because I like the ridiculous. We’ve got a really beautiful service window so we’ll be bringing that out into the middle of the seating area and it’s all very casual. So you’ll go up to order and it will be similar to what you’d see at a market stall. There’ll also be a really beautiful spot to take a photo.

Why Chinese?
All my food tends to lead back to Asian influences. I’ve always wanted to do an old school type of Chinese restaurant. Growing up in New Zealand we always used to go to a little local takeaway and it had all your dirty classics. I didn’t really feel like anyone was doing that style of venue so it’s very much going to play on my childhood. It will be old-school Chinese dishes made funky and fresh.

What inspires you to come up with such unique ideas?
I have a crazy brain. I want to do things other people aren’t doing so I see ideas from lots of different places and try to mould them to fit food that I can cook and food that I think will suit Gold Coast people and what they’ll like. You always start somewhere and it ends up taking a different direction. I thought a Chinese diner was definitely something no one else was doing so let’s do it.

How did your foray into the restaurant biz come about?
I’ve grown up in the industry, my parents have always had little cafes and restaurants back home in Auckland. It was never something I grew up wanting to be as a kid but I got stuck doing it and realised I’m okay at it so I’ve run with it. It’s really rewarding building something and watching it grow from scratch and I’m really proud of all the styles of venues I’ve opened but being in the restaurant game made me realise other passions and things I want to get into too. This will definitely be the last restaurant, there’s no more.

What are your thoughts on the Coast’s rapidly growing foodie scene?
Four years ago when Bonita opened there really wasn’t too much around which is why I got the idea. I wanted the style of venue people my age could go to that was affordable, casual and fun. Since Bonita days, the growth has been a bit crazy. It’s great because it always forces you to stay on your game and you can’t ever become complacent. It forces you to always be better and be pushing to try new things. Competition is good for everyone I think.

Best piece of life advice you’ve ever received?
I think these days what probably resonates more is having balance. It’s good to be driven and want to achieve more but to have down time and really appreciate that is important too. Life isn’t a competition but as you get older you realise you don’t have anything to prove. For me, this year is definitely about down time, spending more time at home, cooking at home, going to the beach more and having more of a life. Just finding some balance.

Being a Gold Coast local, we have to ask your favourites…
Café: I love All Time Coffee, Background – I’ve started going there heaps and they’re really lovely people and Alfred’s has been one of my favourites since day one.
Restaurant:
Other than Bonita, I love the crew down at 8th Ave Terrace, they do everything so well
Beach: I live in Mermaid Beach so that’s definitely my favourite
How does your weekend usually look: Really busy. My weekends are usually Monday and Tuesday, which is nice because there are usually less people around and it’s a little bit more chill. I prefer to be at work on the busier days, I like it when it’s chaotic

Simon Gloftis

We’re going to call it, Simon Gloftis is the man who started the foodie revolution on the Gold Coast. Starting with Little Beans, then now-iconic Greek eatery Hellenika and finally The Fish House, the restaurateur has a slew of local firsts under his belt.

His passion for the Gold Coast’s dining scene has seen him become one of the most familiar faces in town and he’s showing no signs of slowing down.

We chat with Simon about Hellenika’s soon to be opened rooftop bar and the game-changing plans he’s got in store for the Coast.

How did your passion for food came about?
I didn’t realise but obviously growing up in a European family, it was ingrained in me when I was a kid. My godfather has one of the most famous Greek restaurants in Melbourne and we used to go there as a family but I wouldn’t sit at the table I’d go and stand at the door of the kitchen and they’d pass me food and I’d take it out. Then I got a job delivering pizza, worked in a few restaurants, then went to pizza maker and floor manager then I went back to the kitchen. I eventually left hospitality and got my real estate license but every night I was going home and instead of studying the real estate course I was looking at cookbooks so I realised what I loved. I had three cafes on the Gold Coast and then from the cafes I opened Hellenika then Fish House.

What is it you love so much about it?
I literally wake up in the morning and start thinking about food, then I eat food and I don’t stop until I go to bed. It’s my life. I don’t travel anywhere other than for food. When I go to Europe I book the restaurants before I go, even if I’m popping down to Sydney I book the restaurants before I book the flights. It’s all I want to do.

How long have you been a Gold Coast local?
I went to Marymount College from year four. I was born in Melbourne then we moved to Brisbane, back to Melbourne then to the Gold Coast.

What do you love most about living here?
I just think there’s an energy here on the Gold Coast that the bigger cities could only dream about. We can actually make an impact with such a small decision. When I opened up Little Beans in Nobby’s it was probably the only real espresso bar on the Coast and people followed it straight away.  We needed these places. In a big city you can make an impact but you get lost. My whole success on the Coast has been because people supported me. They followed me from Three Beans to Little Beans to Piccolo to Hellenika to The Fish House and now back to Hellenika. I’ve got the same customers from back then and some of my staff have worked in all those venues. The Coast has been a massive support for me.

Why are you so passionate about bringing such quality dining venues to the Coast?
Some of it’s a bit selfish, I actually do things I like and then hope enough people like the same thing. I’m a big fan of healthy food, not as in quinoa salad, as in King George Whiting and Greek salad. When you come to one of my restaurants you will get the best produce in Australia, bar none. We’re either equal to, or better than, every other restaurant in the country and that’s my whole motto.                                               

Do you have a personal favourite of all the ones you’ve opened?
Hellenika. I love every one of my venues because they’re all a piece of me but when I walk into Hellenika I feel like it’s home. I eat there five or six nights a week, I’m happy there. I love the nice big wooden tables, the Greek music, the food, and the wine, the feeling. We all say there’s something in the walls at Hellenika, it’s looked after so many people. It feels like it’s been around for 40 years.

What have you got in store for Hellenika?
We renovated the whole building and I put a whole new level on it. Downstairs will be opening next Friday (1st September) and upstairs is probably about eight weeks away. Upstairs will be a bar with a retractable roof. Downstairs has gone from a taverna-style venue. It had that real rustic Melbourne-style Greek restaurant feel. It’s gone away from that now so when you walk in you’re going to feel like you’re in a Greek restaurant in Athens but something that’s modern today. We’ve gone from 110 wines on our list to 500, it’s amazing, there are 50 indigenous wines from Greece alone. We’re taking everything to the next level. We’ve added some new dishes to the menu – kept about 60% of the favourites – but added some really traditional Greek dishes. Things like Corfu Bianco which is my favourite dish, it’s potatoes and Kingfish baked in the oven with olive oil and lemon juice. So simple but so beautiful.

It’s going to be a touch more formal downstairs and then upstairs is a lot more casual. It’ll be all the mezze food, which is tapas in Greek. Things like pork belly, meatballs, zucchini chips, all that lighter stuff. The bar upstairs will be the main focus, we just want people to be able to come and have a light dinner or snack and drinks. We’ll try and be open until midnight every night upstairs so there’s no guessing if we’re open. You can feel comfortable to go at 10 o’clock at night and have a wine.

What are your thoughts on the rapidly growing dining scene of late?
To give you an example, seven years ago I had to explain what share food was. We had to tell people that food comes to the middle of the table and it’s sort of like a Chinese restaurant. Hellenika was also the first one to do double sittings. Now, that’s commonplace. Nine of my ex staff have opened up venues between Broadbeach and Palm Beach, most of your favourites were opened by my ex staff. I’m really proud of what’s happened on the Gold Coast, if I had a small part to do with it, that’s great.

How would you like to see our foodie scene change or grow over the next few years?
We’ve opened up all the venues I think it might be enough now, there’s nearly one restaurant per person. I think there might be a little bit of hardship to come, just because I know how hard it can be. I’m hoping we consolidate a little bit and maybe get more quality into what we’ve already got before we think about expanding too much further. We need all these local restaurants to make sure what they’re doing is the best they can do. I think it’s neglectful to customers if you start giving them things that are making them sick like artificial flavours and enhancers. I’m hoping we improve on what we’ve got before we grow too much more.

What’s happening after the rooftop is up and running?
I sold The Fish House to do an amazing project, which I can’t mention for a few months but that’s the next big one. Hellenika will always be my baby but I’ve got plans for something that will really be game changing. I can’t wait to launch it.

Being a Gold Coast local, we have to ask your favourites…
Beach: Nobby’s
Café: For someone who’s owned cafes, I don’t hang out in cafes. I do pop down to get a smoothie or juice from Smoothie Shack, that’s about the extent of it.
Restaurant: Can I mention a few? For steak, Glenelg Public House, again Aaron used to work with me. For soup I go to New Saigon and get my Pho. For ribs I go to Fire Cue. For sushi I go to Sapporo in Broadbeach, they’re the only ones on the Gold Coast that I know buys the same quality seafood I do (just ask them what their best dish of the day is and go with that). For hot pot I go to Itoshin in Mermaid Beach. My cousin owns The Lamb Shop in Burleigh so I’m always up there. Pinocchio in Mermaid Beach do a really good fennel salad.
Weekend hang: I’m working on weekends but my weekend is during the week. I’m just hanging out in Nobby’s. The boys and I always get together on a Tuesday and have dinner, that’s my thing. My family owns Miami Marketta so I’m there a lot to watch a band and hang out.

Billy Cross

He’s the Coast’s very own Manpower star turned nightclub owner and entertainment guru and now, local legend Billy Cross is in the business of six-star rooftop bars.

Billy has joined forces with The Star Gold Coast and Hellenika’s Simon Gloftis to bring the Gold Coast a next-level (literally) restaurant and lounge bar with sweeping city views and a sense of sophistication the likes of which our city has never seen.

We chat with Billy about what we can expect from the game changing venue and how he’s gone from King of the glitter strip to co-creator of what he calls the best rooftop bar in Australia.

How long have you been a Gold Coast local?
I’ve lived here for 35 years; I came up quite young so I’m a true Maroons supporter, and I’ve lived here long enough to qualify.

What are your thoughts on the Coast’s growing entertainment scene?
I suppose the thing I love most about being in the entertainment and food industries is seeing how they’ve changed. 10 years ago we had cafes and a restaurant here and there but now when you look at what we have, especially from Broadbeach to Burleigh, there are some absolutely amazing establishments. That’s the part that’s excited me most. 10 years ago you could go to one or two restaurants that were quite good but now there are so many options and so many amazing operators that have really put us on that national level.

What do you love most about living here?
Where I started and created my business was with the Manpower show – Thunder Down Under – which is in Vegas now but also travels the world. I had an opportunity to live and bring my family up in the US but I didn’t because I’ve always loved living on the Coast and everything our city offers. I then got into the nightclub and festival industries, started Summafieldayze and am now involved in events so when you look at those businesses, the Gold Coast is probably one of the best places in the world to work but there’s also a relaxed lifestyle where you can bring up a family. We also have the best beaches in the world and the hinterland, the Coast offers so much. We’re quite spoilt.

Tell us about your latest project at The Star Gold Coast, what can we expect?
It’s going to be a lounge bar, there’ll be a pool and an amazing restaurant. I think Simon and I together are just a dynamic force. In the late 90s I ran the nightclub strip in Surfers when it was powering. I got out of the industry and thought I was done but being asked by The Star to get on board with this investment was so exciting for me. What we’re going to create is not just something the Gold Coast will love but also something that will appeal to people Australia-wide and all over the world. Having a rooftop at The Star Gold Coast is going to be incredible, it’s a serious player and I think it’s going to be the best rooftop bar in Australia. It’s gotten me so excited to get back into the industry. It’ll be a place for the over 25s market to really enjoy. I’ve been involved with it now for the past two years and we’ve needed this on the Coast for a long time. We’ve got some great places but this one is going to be a six-star tower, a really classy place.

How do you think the venue will change the Gold Coast’s entertainment scene?
What it will create is a very high-end restaurant that’s going to have one of the best views on the Gold Coast. As a lounge and bar experience it will have an amazing atmosphere of pure class. You can come up and relax with a beautiful view, enjoy some amazing drinks and some cool old school music. It will have an edgy but classy feel, which I think is something we don’t really have at the moment.

How did you and Simon come up with the idea for something so extravagant?
It was collaboration of course. A big part of the design and the creation was between Simon, myself and The Star. They’ve got an amazing team of people on board and that makes our job easier. It was just everyone putting in their ideas and their two cents to see what it became. For the last five years it’s been something I’ve touched on. For those over 25, after you go to dinner, where do you go? This is going to be a place where of course the restaurant will be busy too, but it will be somewhere you can also go after dinner to have a lounge experience. I feel like this will be the place to go to dress up, enjoy drinks with your friends or partner and have a great time. The bar will be open until 3am so you can go and have a dance after dinner, which is something I think we really need here.

When will we find out the name?
The name will come out in the next couple of weeks; we’ve got a big campaign starting soon. To show people photos just doesn’t do it justice, I can’t wait for people to experience it. 

You’ve done so much throughout your career, what have been the highlights?
I’m quite fortunate that I’ve had such a great career in the entertainment industry. When I built my first club, the Berlin Lounge Bar, back in the late 90s we were one of the first to bring house music to the Gold Coast so that was definitely one of the highlights. Creating Summafieldayze was a highlight because there was only Big Day Out back then. Having a diverse career in entertainment, from running a successful show in Vegas to the nightclub industry to creating one of the biggest festivals in SE QLD and now being involved in what’s going to be one of the best restaurant and lounge bars in Australia, I can’t complain. The highlights keep coming.

Any chance you might want to bring us another local music festival?
We’ve always talked about that. I’m involved with the Hangout Festival called Sand Tunes on Coolangatta Beach which will happen on December 1st and 2nd this year so that’s going to be huge. The guys that run Hangout Festival in Alabama have a great lineup so that will be quite diverse and exciting for the Gold Coast. It will have that Splendour and Falls feel and will be a great tourism push for the southern Gold Coast.

Best piece of life advice you’ve ever received?
Do what you love and love what you do. A lot of people in this world will tell you, you can’t do something but you’ve just got to believe in yourself.
Being a Gold Coast local we have to ask your favourites on the Coast…
Beach: We usually go down to First Ave in Broadbeach but I do love Currumbin, you can’t really beat it
Cafe: BlendLove, Goji Bar in Clear Island Waters and I definitely love Elk Espresso
Restaurant: Definitely Hellenika is my favourite
How does your weekend usually look? My weekend is usually spent with the kids who are right into their basketball at the moment. I’m quite involved in that and the Gold Coast Rollers basketball team, I love my basketball and I love my Titans aswell. I spend a lot of time at Riverstage at the moment too.

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