Monday, 23 January 2012

The Opening of the "Grape Escape"

By the time March 1970 came around, which was the month we earmarked to open the ''Grape"we had come along way from the time Terry and I, first met outside Richard Hunts and discussed opening a wine bar.

We had secured an excellent property, in McMahons Point  a location which was easily accessible from the City, Eastern Suburbs and North Shore. The property had good bones and was large with the  potential to change with the trends, expand and appeal  to a cross section of customers. 

McMahons Point  was an attractive waterfront  lower North Shore Suburb, in the early seventies a bit of a sleepy hollow, mainly residential, with Blues Point Road the main thoroughfare, about two kilometres long, which ran out of road and finished in the harbour.With Lavender Bay on the north side and Berry's Bay on the  south side, with the harbour at the bottom, it was undiscovered and funky, very leafy and hilly.  Add to that  a mix of Victorian terraces, some harbour side mansions, stone convict built working men's cottages and the Point had some history going for it with most of the colonial buildings built in the mid to late eighteen hundreds.The streets and lanes were a bit higgledy piggeldy and quite steep that added to its character.On the west side there was some light industry buildings being converted into creative ventures such as Eric Porters Film Studios and two pubs, at the top of Blues Point Road - The Commodore and at the bottom - Blues Point Hotel.There were several shops of the old school  in pockets - butcher, greengrocer, general store and real estate agent, giving some village atmosphere. Add to all this several apartment buildings of varying sizes and architectural merit, some on the harbour foreshores others scattered through the streets, with one great eyesore on the tip of the point called, Blues Point Towers.

This was now our neighbourhood and we were ready to be neighbourly.We had  several newspaper articles written about  what we were opening and several mentions in some of the social columns.So there was some expectations building within some quarters about this new wine bar opening called The "Grape Escape". 

We now had to prepare for the opening, and to that we had invitations printed and invited most of the young and some of the old "movers & shakers" from both sides of the harbour and from the advertising, film and TV and Sporting sectors.

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