Saturday, 3 March 2012

Our Star Lunch Customers

After we had been open for about six weeks we were getting an indication on who were becoming regulars some for lunch other in the evening and other week ends.

Lunch as we anticipated was popular with Film, Advertising and TV - North Sydney,Crows Nest, Milsons Point and Mac Mahons Point was where they were based and  the "Grape Escape" was bang in the middle and we captured that market for many years way after the three of us had departed. we regularly used to do in excess of 100 covers daily. 

The long lunch was popular and enjoyed by a lot of people many of them not with us now, Eric Porter was one who brought us a lot of business, not only for lunch. His animated film studios were literally a hundred meters away he would normally arrive with at least five or six of his management or clients, or both at least twice a week and then there was his top staff who were all such good customers and who brought so many people for for  lunch or drinks.

Next would have to be Tony Flook, Tony had a small chain of fashion boutiques in North Sydney and the City called "Flookies".Tony and I became solid friends and he loved the "Grape" so much that he moved his office into a large terrace directly opposite.  We both shared the same bank Manager, Geof Paal from the Bank of NSW at North Sydney, where eventually Tony took over the banks premises and turned it into a fashion complex.Tony was popular, with plenty of mates and girlfriends and he also liked a good lunch as much as getting smashed on those many nights that we enjoyed at the Grape and then continuing into the night to the Bengal or Chequers.

Tony introduced a whole team to the Grape Escape, he came from the Northern Beaches and a lot of these people worked all over the place and became regulars due to Tony's patronage and the bar was their meeting place.Mind you there was plenty to attract single good looking blokes from the beaches. As much as we employed some good looking ladies we also encouraged single good looking ladies to become customers. 

As an incentive to keep the 'status quo' Terry came up with the Idea of "Man of the Week" and "Girl of the Week".There were two blackboards behind the Bar which had the drink list chalked up and Lunch specials. We dedicated the bottom space on both boards to writing this up every Monday morning after deciding who they would be. The deciding factor would normally be if they were seen constantly on premises.

Lockie Maher was another lunchtime regular his agency Maher Shennon were good customers even after an altercation over me charging by the glass for Para Port and Lockie disagreeing as he reckoned he should get bottle prices as they drank so much of it by the glass.Terry and I knew Lockie from Rugby as he used to play for Northern Suburbs- however Neil his partner was an equally good customer as we knew many agency people would.

Another character was Ian Hart who owned Seeka Productions, a fim production group, with Ross Nicholls a camera man. Hart loved a drink, and a practical joke, one of his drinking mates was Ian Everingham who was also in advertising, they were big men, Hart was a Pom and supposedly ex commando and programmed to kill. The two of them were drinking at one end of the bar, late one afternoon and I was at the other end talking with Flookie - they had not been there long, and had obviously been elsewhere for lunch,  and I could see from their behaviour and loud laughter  they were  pissed. I had my back to them, and un noticed Ian had wandered over, as if to talk to us, as I turned around he caught me with a punch into my solar plexus and I doubled up coughing and spluttering. He quickly said "I did it for a bet" before Flookie and I responded - I looked over and Hart was pissing himself, yelling out " we wanted to see if you could take a joke"

Others that come to mind were the blokes who owned the construction group RLM, Bob Rose, Rob Laing and Ian MacAskill.They used to like the eye candy behind the bar, a relief from the blokey world of construction.Ron Allen and Ian Keirnan  also used to enjoy  checking out the girls at the Grape, Ron helped early in the opening stages by passing the word around to some of the team on the Eastern Suburbs. Ross Renwick from the the Billy Blue group was another `lunch regular 'who I knew from Bilgola Life Savers when I was at school.  Wayne Young and Trevor Harrison who owned Spectrum always made and entrance as they were always were accompanied with with the  good sorts that worked with them like Kate Shea, Carol Lopes and Susie Petersen.

Nights was

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