Long lunches overlooking Avoca Beach
Need an escape from Newcastle or just want to explore more of what our beautiful country has to offerSee our handpicked guides to Newcastle
BY ALICIA POOLE
Or just an absolute foodie that is always up for a new taste experience. Well, haven’t we found the perfect place for you!
Just one and a half hours from the centre of Newcastle, Avoca is host to one of the best beaches in the region, seriously friendly locals, an array of shops, cafes and an extra bonus…the brand spanking new venue, Avoca Surf House.
Think long lunches overlooking Avoca Beach with a cocktail in hand, enjoying some of the freshest seafood and extraordinary menus the area has to offer.
Going on 9 months old, we caught up with the owner, Emily Caska, to hear about how this beauty of a venue came to life.
Tell me a bit about the fit-out and getting ready to open up.
Upon walking into the premises, it was clear the view was breathtaking, not many – if any – venues on the Coast enjoy such a vantage point so everything worked back from that. The palette was simple and [we] drew on the colours of the Avoca sunset – light blue, peach, sand, and white… my vision was for the space to be fresh, inviting, simple. That ethos carries through to everything we do.
Getting ready to open was as exciting as it was overwhelming. I was involved every single day of fit out while juggling a full-time job and 4-year-old on my own but when you’re so passionate about something and can see progress, those sleepless nights quickly dissipate. We worked a lot with the community prior to opening as being a small coastal town, our locals are everything… and so, it [Avoca Surf House] was born!
Do you have a background in hospitality?
I worked in pubs during my uni days and managed some venues in the eastern suburbs of Sydney where I really learnt the ropes from the best in the business. Upon taking over the premises, I was told no end that I didn’t have enough experience to do this, however I think there’s also been great benefit in that, a sort of conscious naivety and consumer lens that has helped shape who we are and what we do in a way that’s different to the traditional hospitality model.
What made you decide to take on the space?
To be brutally honest – not much! There was very little forethought or pre-planning. A mix of wanting to give back to our community who had welcomed us so well as well as the identification of a gap in the market that, given my strategy and business development background, piqued an interest.
I’ve always been intrigued by fit out, by menu design, by food, by wines, I love to cook, I love to see people enjoy meals, gather, laugh…I love eating out, I love the thrill of new venues, I love little town cafes through to high-end restaurants.
What is the Avoca Surf House philosophy?
I went into this with a clear philosophy of having a heart, a conscience and being part of our community. All lovely words, but it’s then been about distilling these into practice. We have a heart by supporting people with a disability through employment and through them making our furniture, we also love to give back to local charities as well as support small businesses and sole traders by giving them a platform through our workshops or space hire.
We have a conscience by being ethical in all we do, by recycling, by not using plastic straws and only giving out paper straws when guests ask, by using as minimal electricity as we can, by hosting monthly beach clean-up and offering a free beer or wine as a reward to volunteers.
We are all about our community by sponsoring the local Avoca Boardriders and Avoca Beach Rugby Club, we host monthly karma kegs sponsored by local businesses for local charities, we run locals’ nights and support local musicians with live music three times a week.
Tell me a bit about your community classes…
This has been the exciting part for me…we partner with a range of locals to put on classes, workshops, talks, dinners, lunches, cocktail functions and more. It’s been so humbling to work with such talented people, many of whom just needed that extra nudge to get their skills out there!
Where do you source your products from?
We source 90% of our produce from Australia, predominantly NSW. That’s always something we are looking to improve too by engaging local producers and minimising our footprint.
What does the future look like for Avoca Surf House?
We’ve really only just begun! We are about to launch our new exciting Spring menu on 13 September, along with a revitalised cocktail and wine list. We are launching gourmet hampers, our online homewares store to complement our current onsite shop, take away, home delivery and more in coming months too, as well as offering more community classes and events.
With one of the best views in the area, a food and cocktail menu to die for and an awesome ethical and community philosophy, Avoca Surf House should be on your to-do list.