Granite Belt missing chance to fill food lovers’ bellies
A REGION home to some of the state’s best wineries has come under fire from those in the industry who say the Granite Belt is being let down by a lack of restaurant options.
A rapid rise in tourism over the past four weeks has forced the limited number of restaurants to turn away eager dinners looking to pair locally produced food with the region’s wines.
Queensland College of Wine and Tourism campus manager Chrissy Mattiazzi said the lack of a la carte restaurants across the region was its “main issue”.
“We’re very lucky in Stanthorpe that we have some really true quality places to eat at,” she said.
“But at times like this when the town is as busy as it is, there isn’t enough.
“Even today, I’ve had 20 calls turning people away for lunch but we can only fit so many people in.”
Mrs Mattiazzi said the college’s restaurant, Varias, had been double-booked for lunch and dinner for weeks.
As one of very few sit-down restaurants, Mrs Mattiazzi said there was a market for new restaurants however the seasonal nature of the region presented concerns.
“When you look at people from metropolitan regions, that’s the kind of thing they’re looking for – that niche, that something different,” she said.
“We have to be able to give them that especially because we’re a wine district.
“It’s up to those here doing a la carte dining to match local wine with great produce.”
Coronavirus restrictions coupled with drought and bushfires has wreaked havoc on restaurants, many of which were forced to reduce trading hours and staff to cope with the decline in business.
St Jude’s Café owner Robert Davidson said the response from tourists over the past few weeks had been exceptional.
“In recent times, we’ve been really lucky with all the Brisbane people visiting,” he said.
“I think everyone is just getting back on their feet, everyone I’m speaking to at least.”
The restaurant opened last April, hoping to capitalise on a unique market.
Mr Davidson said if tourism remained at a steady level for 2020, there would be greater opportunities for restaurateurs looking to open up businesses.
“Long-term there’s potential for possibly more eating choices,” he said.
“People are here for two or three days, and they’d like to have more outings, especially Brisbane people.
“They could probably do with more diversity. Especially in Stanthorpe, they need another good restaurant.”