For nineteen years the Pickled Octopus has put Tuross Head on the map with its consistently good food and service. It has become an icon of the South Coast with its seafood menu, its famous vistas over the Tuross River during the day and its stunning sunsets at dusk helped along by the big personality of its principle chef, Greg Ferguson often heard singing in the kitchen. Greg has asked if he can offer a farewell message as he and wife, co-owner and front of house, Cath, hand over the reins of the Pickled Octopus they have nurtured from its infancy to new owners Grant and Bee. “The village of Tuross welcomed us 19 years ago. We had eagerness to learn and in time our skills grew as did our menu. When we purchased the Lakeview Café all those years ago it was a humble building with a skinny front uncovered verandah decorated with plastic tables and chairs, slate lino, beige paint and a menu that wouldn’t look out of place at a carnival with chicko rolls and the like. We moved in, adjusted the menu and started to offer oysters, prawns, filleted flathead, kingfish and service with a smile. With more and more patronage it soon became apparent that bigger changes were needed with an overhaul of the building that received a new deck up top and a large deck below. The kitchen also received a makeover along with a new timber floor and tables and chairs to suit. With a liquor license , a name and a logo drawn by our five year old daughter, Claudia, the Pickled Octopus was born. Years passed quickly with the addition of another two boys to the dinner table, buying land and building a home. Business was very seasonal and to make a living was quite a challenge so it became vital for us to build a solid customer base and get repeat customers back during the quieter months if it as to last. Word of mouth from our solid supporters promoted the restaurant far and wide and they came from all over. With them came the awards. The Ocky won NSW Seafood restaurant of the Year 2000 and remained in the finals list in the industry’s most recognized award, The Restaurant Caterers Awards every year after. It was nice to be recognized. The ones who made it all the more possible were the fifty or so young staff we have employed over the years; at first timid and shy, willing to be trained and learn the disciplines of life in the work place and the confidence to become mature respected adults they are today. And the thousands of faithful customers who have visited The Ocky year after year, some monthly and some even weekly - we thank you as you are all the ones who made it possible to continue for so long. It has been a great and rewarding challenge with well over a quarter of a million meals served. Thanks also go to our suppliers of produce and their understanding and delivery of the quality we expected. Over all the years we have heard the time and time again of the enjoyment our diners have had that has had them return to Tuross and this has been made all the more pleasurable in hearing visitors from Japan, the UK, the USA and Canada saying they were told to visit The Ocky while travelling in Australia. Our comment book holds some lovely messages. “They said when you are in Australia go to Tuross Head and eat at the Pickled Octopus” “Best oysters ever” “What a great place, pleased we made the effort to drive down from Sydney” In recent weeks it has been overwhelming and hectic. In our last four weeks of trading we served 4000 meals. During that time it was warming to hear the many kind words and receive the farewell gifts from so many customers who have come back again and again and again. We are so very grateful to have had such special patrons to look after, making our efforts all the more enjoyable. When we reminisce, we think of those loyal families, some local, some from Sydney, Canberra and especially those from out west whose annual or bi-annual pilgrimage wasn’t complete without a visit or two to The Ocky. We have witnessed a generation move on and this has been saddening but then we now see the kids whose first visit was in a pram with Nan and Pop grow into young adults, having a wine or a beer and some even with children of their own – wow! So many beautiful people. It has been a true highlight for Cath and I to meet you all. Thank you all for helping us to pay our bills and raise our children. A special thanks to our kids Claudia, Ben and Ford for being patient and understanding of Cath and myself. We know it must have been hard having two parents in hospitality with long hours and a fragmented lifestyle, so thanks kids. You were the motivation behind selling and we are yours now; super pumped about spending more time with you. To those who missed out on seeing us in our final months to say farewell, we remember you and look forward to saying g’day when our paths cross down at the beach or better still at The NEW Ocky where we will be regular diners. We will now hand over to Bee and Grant with excitement as they will continue the tradition of the Pickled Octopus with great food and smiles knowing that the community and patrons who supported us for so many years will equally wish Grant and Bee well. For us, we have new adventures awaiting. See you on the beach. Fergs
NOTE: The Pickled Octopus has been closed over February in transition to the new restaurant opening in early March.