Holidaymakers’ generosity keeps Airlie Beach seafood restaurant open

A V8 supercar driver, intensive care nurse, commercial builder and chef walk into a restaurant.

The owner tells them it will likely have to close in the next few days due to staff issues due to COVID.

It sounds like the start of a joke, but for a restaurant in Airlie Beach, it led to the experience of a lifetime.

Fish D’vine owner Kevin Collins was down to just one room staff, two bar staff and three chefs when a group of young vacationers offered to help.

Mr Collins said the subsequent events were “bloody remarkable”.

“I was serving younger guests some of our famous mojitos, lamenting the fact that I should probably close, and they said we would come work for you,” he said.

The next day, Mr Collins called the eclectic group of buddies from Brisbane and Melbourne to see if they were serious.

Sure enough, the group of four worked five hours that night to serve 180 diners.

Dinner … and show

Kevin Collins says carrying plates and taking orders is great, but you can’t replace a beautiful soul.(Provided: Kevin Collins)

“It has become a bit like a theater restaurant,” Collins said.

But to everyone’s surprise, and perhaps disappointment, there were no accidents to report.

“I would give any of them a job tomorrow; they were goddamn crackers,” Collins said.

“It was just a reinforcement that we are in the attitude realm.”

Mr Collins said the restaurant tipped the most every night.

“It was one of those moments in time that you probably will never have again,” he said.

Rach Cla (the intensive care nurse), Matt McLean (the driver of the V8 supercar) and Mikel Cameron (the Melbourne commercial builder) said they were enjoying a day at the beach when they received the ‘call.

Coincidentally, they were also hanging out with a friend who works as a chef on Hayman Island.

“We just didn’t want to see the place shut down; we knew they were a little stressed, and you could see he [Kevin] was quite disappointed, ”said McLean.

A plate of drinks with pineapple on the side of the glass is held in front of a blue ocean and sky.
Fish D’vine was closed on Friday to give the remaining limited staff a break before reopening on weekends.(Provided)

Mr McLean said they noticed that Airlie Beach had been particularly affected by the closure of small businesses and that it had been difficult for the group to find places to eat.

Ms Cla said times were exceptionally difficult and everyone was just trying to do their best with what they had.

“We didn’t know Kev was telling all the customers who we were and what we were doing. At the end of the night everyone came to say goodbye,” Ms. Cla said.

“We met people that we served, and they bought us a drink round and wanted to have dinner with us.”

Random movement of staff

Mr Collins recounted the experience on Facebook, along with photos of what he called his “random staff move.” The post has since gone viral.

“I had a dozen people who offered to come and work for nothing because of what happened and even [had] a mom gets in touch and says her 15 year old son wants to come do the dishes, ”he said.

The initial group of “random staff” were touched by the response they received.

“I don’t think it’s hard to help… I’m sure there are a lot of people out there who have done things like that,” McLean said.

Mikel Cameron agreed that working, even while on vacation, was worth every minute, especially for the seafood feast they received at the end.

“It was a really cool thing to do and a crazy experience and a hell of a story,” he said.

All is not pessimistic and this little act of kindness has traveled far and warmed the hearts of many in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mr Collins said words couldn’t describe how much the act meant to him.

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