10 May 2023

Big change for popular fish and chip shop

| Sarah Martin
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The new owner of Grilled & Gutted in Cooktown, Meg Barrett, with daughter Aimee and son-in-law Zac Mackey.

THE Barrett family have thrown out the high-vis shirts and swapped them for aprons after buying their first business and making the move to Cooktown.

Damian and Meg Barrett were living in Mackay and looking for a change of lifestyle when they decided to buy the popular waterfront seafood takeaway business Gilled & Gutted.

This was despite not having any business or cafe experience.

“Damo suggested a sea change, we were wanting something different, more of a laidback lifestyle,” Ms Barrett said.

“He’s worked in the mines for 30 years and I’ve been a food service wholesale rep for 20 years.

“We’ve got friends in Cooktown and they said it’s a nice little town, so we came up for a look about six weeks before we bought it.”

The couple, with daughter and son-in-law Aimee and Zac Mackey, took over management in November, and already have plans to open a cafe in the former Restaurant 1770 space adjacent to Gilled & Gutted.

“We want to open before Easter to get it running smoothly before jumping into the busy season,” Ms Barrett said.

“We’re going to open initially as a café and then find a chef so we can do the restaurant trade at night.”

Ms Barrett said they planned to offer something different so as not to compete with existing businesses, with a regularly changing menu and specials such as cocktails and tapas.

“The feedback we’ve had from locals is that they’re really looking forward to it reopening after so long,” she said.

The family said they planned to support local businesses as much as possible, including buying fresh seafood.

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