WHAT HAPPENED TO THE BICC?: With sudden staff losses and pre-packaged food only on offer at the BICC, former employees and customers wonder what went wrong. file
WHAT HAPPENED TO THE BICC?: With sudden staff losses and pre-packaged food only on offer at the BICC, former employees and customers wonder what went wrong. file

cafe folds from poor support

GONE is the full restaurant menu, freshly made scones, homemade wraps and slap-up breakfasts.

In their place - a food counter serving pre-packed sandwiches and frozen pies.

The Blackwater International Coal Centre has closed its once bustling cafe, leaving many confused customers asking why.

“... we went with our parents to have lunch and the girl serving said the kitchen was no longer operating because it was losing too much money, and there was too much food wastage,” said one customer, who wished to remain anonymous.

“We used to go at least a couple of times a week for lunch, morning tea, afternoon tea, sometimes for an ice cream with the kids before going on to the Japanese gardens.

“The food was delicious.

“Now it’s just not the same.

“I’m just worried we’re going to lose the whole thing at this rate.

“It’s nowhere near as busy as it used to be.

“If you want a pre-made sandwich, you can go and grab one from the servo."

One former employee, who began working at the centre cafe when it opened in 2008, said the closure followed big staff losses, with employees gradually pushed out by unreasonable cuts in their hours.

“My hours were cut from 20 hours per week to six, and then in June, I stopped getting shifts altogether, despite giving in roster request forms every week for a month,” she said.

“All of the girls slowly dwindled off.

“The head chef was told she wasn’t to bake anymore.”

“Her hours went down from 40 per week to 20, to none.

“It’s really disappointing.

“The centre cafe gave the whole community somewhere nice to go in town for a coffee, where they could take their children and enjoy good homemade food.”

BICC general manager Gavin Cleary defended the decision to close the cafe.

He said the centre would remain open to the public, and a portion of the business was for functions.

“We are looking to work towards the business remaining viable for the long term and to remain a key part of the Blackwater business sector.”

Board chairman Rod Bridges said the cafe, although popular, had been running at a loss.

“The theatre is working well, the mine tours are very good, the conference centre is getting a lot of good business, but the interpretive centre, which was supposed to be a big contributor towards funding for the BICC, just hasn’t worked,” he said.

“We were relying on the coffee shop for revenue and it just didn’t make enough to cover costs.”

Mr Bridges said the board now had to be imaginative about ways to boost profits.

“We are looking at leasing the cafe section out to professional food providers, so there will still be a food outlet of some description at the BICC,” he said.

Mr Bridges said it was down to the community to support the BICC.

“The BICC is a community centre and unfortunately we are not getting much community support,” he said.

“The BICC is a fabulous facility and can really be an asset to the community and something they can make use of.”

“We were relying on the coffee shop for revenue and it just didn’t make enough to cover costs.”

BICC general manager Gavin Cleary


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