Rush for alternative venues

Manager Maree Gannon outside Colac’s Botanic Cafe which has had to close after Otway Community College’s collapse.

COLAC and district restaurants have had a bittersweet rush of bookings after Colac’s Botanic Café closed.

The lakeside café closed last week when tenant Otway Community College went into voluntary administration.

Otway Estate managing director Carolyn Milverton said the Barongarook vineyard would host a wedding which was originally to be at the Botanic Café.

“We were shocked to hear of the closure of the tea rooms and only discovered the news in our busy lead-up to Oktoberfest via a bridal couple desperately searching for an alternative venue to host their ceremony and reception in 10 days’ time,” Mrs Milverton said.

“We thankfully were able to accommodate them along with another function this coming weekend,” she said.

Mrs Milverton said the Botanic Café’s closure was “devastating” for Colac and district.

“The tea rooms employed many locals and offered a gorgeous setting to enjoy a coffee or bite to eat,” she said.

Colac’s Oddfellows owner Melanesia Carson said restaurant had picked up a “handful” of bookings for the coming fortnight.

“We’re really disappointed for the Botanic Café and their staff and we really feel for their predicament,” Mrs Carson said.

“We’re not even considering it as a business opportunity for us, it’s whatever we can do to help out,” she said.

The café’s closure forced Elliminyt’s Phil Douglas and his wife to relocate his 50th birthday celebrations.

Mr Douglas said the café told him about the closure two nights before the event.

“We thought it was an nuisance, fortunately we’ve got plenty of people who helped us,” Mr Douglas said.

“I think it’s more disgraceful it was closed down so quickly and they didn’t honour their commitments,” he said.

“I’m more upset how it’s going to affect jobs and the general effect it has on the district and the town, it’s very, very poor.”

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