LOUDON COOPER - BISTRO LOLA
I was named after Loudon Wainwright III, an American folk singer and father of Rufus and Martha Wainwright.
I grew up in sunny Castlemaine. For the most part it was good. I had a pretty good circle of friends but Castlemaine definitely suffers from the same issues a lot of small regional centres do; a combination of isolation and gossip.
I went to Castlemaine Secondary College and left in year 10 to work in construction with my father. I also worked at the IGA as a box boy, the second worst job I've ever had. The worst was at Don KR. I don’t think I need to go into detail as to why, but I definitely didn’t eat meat while I worked there. Technically, my first hospitality job was at Saffs cafe, scrubbing dishes. I sucked at it as a 15 year old so I only did three shifts before leaving. Or maybe they didn’t ask me back. Semantics really. My first real hospitality job was bar tending at the Bridge Hotel as soon as I turned 18.
I was 17 when I had my first cocktail, hitting the bars of Melbourne. It was probably an Espresso Martini. Nothing against people who like them but if I don’t drink another one for as long as I live it will be too soon. The first cocktail I made was a margarita and the first one I created was a green apple negroni. It was before I knew what a negroni really was and probably before I knew anything.
I've seen 'Cocktail' twice. Bryan Brown is a boss.
I stayed in Castlemaine because of good people and seeing the town develop over the years has been great. Because I spent so much time in Melbourne, I never really needed to move there. But I do have a burning desire to move internationally. Places like Melbourne, even Sydney, just seem to close to home to make the move worthwhile.
The biggest change I've noticed has been Castlemaine's transformation into a food destination. Whether this is due to restaurants, cafes, wineries or producers, I’m not sure but it's definitely an aspect of the town that has developed in a major way over the last ten years.
As FOH Manager at Bistro Lola, I arrive to work around 1pm. Depending on the day it’ll be straight into a meeting with the owners, discussing the previous week, marketing tactics and any upcoming events. Then I check the day's bookings process online bookings. This is followed a quick stock take to make sure our wine list is up-to-date. Then I get to editing the wine list. At around 3pm I’ll have a quick chat to our head chef about reservations and menu changes, then I focus on marketing; social media, Google, our website or hard copy. between 4:30 and 5:00 I start rushing to make sure the restaurant is ready to open at 5:30. Then I’m in service mode until we pack up and go home, ready to do it all again the next day.
I also have a cocktail bar and catering service called Aldous Bartending Co. We drag it to festivals, parties, weddings and make high-end craft cocktails. It’s taken a back seat while I helped to get Lola going but the next six months should be a good time for us!
Favourite drink: a martini of some sort. Just something really cold with gin that’s ice cold and a vermouth or dry sherry. And a lemon twist. I’ll just have my olives in a dish, warmed with some bread, thanks.
Umbrellas in drinks? If its got rum, pineapple and some sort of almond syrup, sure! There’s always something making a comeback. At the moment bartenders love Jagermiester again.
I met Ann, my partner, over the bar, when I was night manager at the Bridge. Her band came to play and three people showed up. I watched a bit of the show and I was just totally enamoured with the bass player. When they finished I bought them a round of drinks to thank them. All I wanted to do was talk to Ann but I was so nervous that I couldn’t do it. Turns out she thought I didn’t want anything to do with her. The next month, on Christmas Eve, I got a bit boozy with a friend and started talking about her. I convinced myself to message her. We met up for a date on Boxing Day and the rest is history! I am inspired by Ann,and all the small business owners all over the place working their arses off and making it happen.
Favourite things to do in the area: Getting pies from Guildford General Store, lunch at Fig cafe and visiting the anticlinal fold. I also love cooking and pottery. I'm very into pottery; I take lessons with Phil Elson on Wednesday mornings.
Tips for people thinking of moving here: Do all of the above.