WE’RE OPEN: Owner of Ballina’s Wharf Bar and Restaurant, Ralph Mamone, with first-year apprentice chef Matthew Payne who is on staff.
WE’RE OPEN: Owner of Ballina’s Wharf Bar and Restaurant, Ralph Mamone, with first-year apprentice chef Matthew Payne who is on staff. Graham Broadhead

Fawcett Park restaurant reopens, employing 30-40 people

RALPH Mamone admits "it's been a battle", but he and his partner Khanh have opened their riverside restaurant in Ballina and are now putting into action their philosophy of supporting local youth.

Ralph said Wharf Bar and Restaurant will employ 30-40 people and, for many of the young people, it's their first job in hospitality and they will be trained on the job.

"We all need to start somewhere," Ralph said. "And that is important to us."

The staff were hard at work yesterday when the restaurant opened.

Early last year, Ralph and Khanh had begun refurbishments on the restaurant by the Richmond River in Fawcett Park, a building owned by Ballina Shire Council and formerly operated as Pelican 181.

But in February 2013, ex-tropical cyclone Oswald hit and blew the roof off the building and caused other damage internally.

Ralph said that at the time the storm hit, the restaurant was due to open in a couple of months.

"It's been a battle to get it all up and running," he said of the process of claiming insurance and getting the refurbishments complete.

But he said council had been very supportive and Wharf Bar and Restaurant is now open - though about a year later than planned.

Ralph said the restaurant, which seats 120 people, would accommodate those who want to have a coffee, a meal or a drink.

There is a stage area inside the restaurant, and Ralph said he was keen to support young talented musicians by giving them a venue to play at.

The riverside frontage of the restaurant has also been "weather-proofed" so diners can be out of the wind and rain.

Ralph said the "priceless riverfront view was one of the best locations in the region".

"And that's what attracted us," he said.

The restaurant will be open for breakfast, lunch and dinners until late, but closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

Bookings aren't taken for dinners, unless for a function. And there is a takeaway section, too.



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