Preserving Swiss Culture and Traditions in Queensland
Reflections: arriving in Australia from Switzerland in 1992, my English was pretty good, but my accent was terrible. I remember the bartender just staring at me after I ordered my drink and his reply was’ “where are YOU from?” Luckily, Nick has been living in Australia for a while, and he always saved me. I learned quickly. Talking to our elderly landlord, every time I didn’t exactly understand, I just smiled. Aussies like to crack a joke, you can’t go wrong. What a great place to start a new life and business!
We found a good spot in the quiet suburb of Brisbane- Blackwood street in Mitchelton. Early days of Des Alpes Swiss Restaurant included me finding another job during the day for the first year to pay the bills, me and Nick playing backgammon while waiting for customers, 2 employees for 3hrs each only on Friday&Saturday nights, explaining to potential customers what is “Swedish food”, dragging hughe eskis full of BYO drinks even for a small table of 4 people, very hard to source Swiss products (Swiss cheeses couldn’t be imported because they are made with raw milk) and trying to explain on the Menu what Spätzli is.
25 years down the track, des Alpes Cafe Restaurant, open 7 days for breakfast, lunch and dinner, 14 employees, we are a local institution in the greater community and most people we speak to have either enjoyed our Fondue and Röstis or know people who did. People stop us on the street and tell us about their first date at Des Alpes or their last meal before waters broke and off to hospital to have the baby, proposed at Des Alpes, anniversaries, birthdays and so on. This is what fills my heart with joy and this is the essence of what made it possible to remain in this industry for so long, adding the challenges of raising 3 children and continuously adapting to customers eating out trends and habits; while staying true to the business we have created and what kind of experience we want to provide.
Fond memories are plentiful, mostly watching the children being involved, grow and learn and in the later years supporting and advising us; customers who became very dear to us; other customers not so, but you still have to be nice to them: “Der Kunde ist König” they told me in my apprenticeship; failures and successes with new ideas, functions Menu etc
Working together a s a husband and wife team has its challenges but the fact is that we have both been extremely dedicated in making things work smoothly, been inspired by our passion for food and none of us has shied away from hard work, thus we were always pulling on the same string.
We are leaving the business in the capable hands of one of our employees who will firstly concentrate on the Cafe and later open some nights for dinner. The business name has changed but Swiss Rösti remains a prominent feature on the Menu.
Des Alpes has given the Nick family a quarter of a century of unforgettable memories and many customers will always fondly remember the introduction of Swiss traditions and its delicious food and drinks. Monika & Nick