Sunday, March 29, 2009

White-dressed lady watches chairs float out door

Image: Historical picture of the old courthouse that is now a restaurant and function centre. See

MANY thousands of important bottoms have graced the 120 dining chairs that became available in the Classifieds thanks to a "freshening up" at one of Redland City’s premier restaurants.
With new chairs in place, the update at The Old Courthouse Restaurant was almost complete, according to owners Mary and Ross Gibb.
The old chairs, which date from the 1970s, were part of the package when the couple bought the restaurant in March, 1998, Mary says.
The timber chairs have done their job well but they needed continual maintenance after their decades of hard work.
During the reign of the Gidds in the colonial courthouse, the restaurant trade has built up to hundreds of diners, Mary says.

THIS year is appropriate for an update – it is the 20th anniversary of Cleveland cuisine’s introduction to the couple.
In 1988, Mary moved from Melbourne and Ross came from Scotland. From 1989 to ’98, they operated Beaches Restaurant.
Mary believes almost a decade’s experience at Beaches gave her and Ross the management skills to make the Courthouse so successful.
"Beaches was a BYO and that means you must do everything right because you cannot have the benefit of liquor sales," she says.
"We had the basics right."

IN cuisine, that means a traditional style with a European influence and Australian fresh produce, Mary says.
The food style immedately fitted well with the restaurant setting in a courthouse that a district landowner and publican, Francis Bigges, built in 1853.
Mary recalls a rush on function bookings that set the stage for subsequent years. "In my first six months here I had 100 bookings for wedding receptions," she says.
"The venue has always been beautiful – it’s the perfect location for special occasions."

ABOUT that time, Mary had a special visitor who did not need a chair.
"We had been told the courthouse had a resident ghost, Elizabeth, Francis Bigges’ wife," Mary says.
"One day I was on the phone to a friend and she floated past me. She had short dark hair and a long white dress.
"She floated across and through the wall after she seemed to give a nod of approval. It was like she showed me her acceptance of what we were doing."
Mary says she has not seen the ghost again but "I feel her and know she’s there – there’s no mischief or anything like that".

ELIZABETH may have given a silent sigh as the chairs went out the door at $20 each to about 20 buyers.
Mary wonders what the white-dressed lady would think of the restaurant’s changes, which presented some challenges, such as incorporating new equipment without threatening the old-world feel of an historic building.

Thanks for joining me to meet the great people in the marvellous community of classified advertising. This column has appeared in The Redland Times.

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