8 April 2024

New owner rolls on in to take over popular historic cafe at Bowning

| Sally Hopman
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Woman and man behind fence of Rollonin cafe

New owner of the Rollonin Cafe, David Gargett, with manager Vikkii Wallis, at the Bowning business near Yass. Photo: Sally Hopman.

David Gargett first experienced the beauty of the Yass Valley back in 1977 when, as a PhD student, he studied how the managerial ability of graziers could be measured.

Today he has returned to the Valley, but this time in quite the opposite of roles – as the new owner of the historic Rollonin Cafe just off the Hume Highway at Bowning.

It was, he said, both a business and lifestyle decision to take on the cafe which had been run by Renata Ryan and her late husband Tony for almost 20 years.

It had been on the market a few times over the years, but the historic property, complete with 1840s cottage made from convict bricks, underground cellar, the adjacent cafe and the blocks of land behind, sold last month to David.

“I knew the cafe,” David said, “I’d been out here a few times. I remember when it originally came up for auction; I wasn’t a bidder then because it wasn’t the right time. But I kept coming back to the place. Then, when I saw it was for sale, and that coincided with my retirement, I thought, ‘Why not?'”

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Employed in the public service throughout his career, including at the Bureau of Agricultural Economics and later at the Bureau of Transport Economics in Canberra, working in the hospitality industry was not on his radar.

But he was looking for the next stage in his life, and the Rollonin met that.

As a customer of the cafe, he knows it works so has no immediate plans for drastic change. He said he would keep all the staff on and has promoted Vikkii Wallis to manage the business while he oversees everything.

“In the short term, I would like to keep everything the same as possible. Vikkii is well positioned to take over as manager, she’s been here about eight years.”

Woman with bouquet of flowers

Renata Ryan was farewelled by family and friends at Easter after selling the Rollonin Cafe. Photo: Facebook.

David is also happy to keep two of the other locals, Eddie the donkey and Clancy the Clydesdale who are popular with visitors.

He is also keen to continue using local produce on the menu, sourcing it from the Yass Valley and out to Goulburn.

The history of the property was also a great attraction. David will live in the cottage adjacent to the cafe, which was originally a Cobb and Co station.

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Staff and locals farewelled previous owner Renata Ryan whose last day of trading was on Good Friday.

She thanked her “wonderful staff, suppliers and my awesome family and friends”, adding she could not have done it without them.

“The cafe will always hold a special place in my heart, along with my beautiful family, as [her husband] Tony poured his heart and soul into this wonderful place for all to enjoy.”

She said she was sad to leave the cafe and all its memories, but “it’s time”.

Rollonin Cafe is located at 144 Bowning Road, Bowning. They’re open from 8:30 am until 4 pm Thursday to Sunday. Keep up to date with them via their website, Facebook page or Instagram.

Original Article published by Sally Hopman on About Regional.

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