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Community & Business

15 December, 2021

New chapter for Yungaburra’s Nick

YUNGABURRA’s most well-known restaurateur Nick Cremeri may say he’s retiring but anyone who knows him probably won’t believe it until they see it.

By Robyn Holmes

Nick Cremeri is retiring after 35 years in the restaurant business in Yungaburra. He is pictured holding an old pair of binoculars he brought with him from Switzerland.

Nick and his restaurant have become synonymous with Yungaburra since he first opened in 1986 and now he has handed the reins to a couple, he says he wants to spend more time travelling but he will “keep his eye” on what is happening with the restaurant and perform with his accordian “on request”. 

Nick has leased the business to Donato Bilotti and Daniela Berini for now but has also listed the business for sale. 

Nick’s 35 years in the restaurant business means he has had the longest stint in the sector than anyone else in the Far North region. 

Reflecting on his career, Nick says the thing that always drove him was the need to succeed. 

“There have plenty of ups and downs over the years, it was not all plain sailing – the high interest rates of 18 per cent we had in the late 80s, the pilot’s strike, and two cyclones to name a few,” he said. 

“Several times, I have been on the thin line, but I never threw the towel in – I was determined to succeed.” 

He credits a lot of his success to advice and support he was given by well-known businessman Chano Trentin and other business people who passed on their wisdom to the then fledgling restauranteur. 

“Chano in particular gave me a lot of good advice and we were good friends – and that is what has helped me and kept me going,” he said. 

“When I first started, I had no knowledge of legal matters and things like that – I speak five languages but when I had to sign a contract or something like that, I found it very complicated and Chano helped a lot as well as other business people who became mentors for me.” 

The support of his hundreds of thousands of customers over the past three decades is not lost on the Swiss-born chef. “If I didn’t have their support and look after them, I would not have survived,” he said. 

Nick’s career is well-documented, with hundreds of media articles written about him over the years – testament to his clever marketing, creativity and unrelenting sense of fun. 

Originally from Switzerland, Nick first opened an eatery in 1986 out of a small teahouse in Yungaburra that accommodated just 24 patrons before he extended the building to cater for 100 guests in 1991. 

In 1997, the Bella Vista function room was constructed and six months later, the Yodeller’s Bar was added, bringing the capacity of the facility to 180. 

Not surprisingly, Nick has many stories to tell about the many thousands of people who have enjoyed dining at the restaurant, but it’s the little things that make his heart soar. 

“I just love it when they send me a thank you card, or when I see people who came here when they were baptised, now coming back when they get married,” he said. 

One of the funniest memories he has was when a family from Ravenshoe finished their dinner and left the restaurant, inadvertently leaving a baby under the table. 

“We see the baby under the table, we tried to find the people but their name was Smith so we couldn’t find their number. We comforted the baby, I played a bit of accordian and he fell asleep, then the parents finally came back about 2 o’clock in the morning to get the baby,” he said. 

With Donato and Daniela– a couple who have been running the pizzeria on the grounds of the restaurant – now taking over the reins of the restaurant, Nick hopes to try his hand at other things. 

“I would love to make videos – like a cooking show but go to the local farms and cook the ‘secret’ recipes that many families have,” he said. 

Nick promises there will be a gala farewell function before Christmas where he hopes former guests will come and celebrate with him.

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