It seems appropriate that Ivan and Jackie Lajdes are choosing Father’s Day to close their popular Penshurst Cottage Italian and Seafood Restaurant after 28 years of trading.
It could be seen as a big thank you to all the fathers who have featured prominently in the history of their family business.
Jackie’s father Orlando was a chef. So is her husband, Ivan and their son David.
Ivan and Jackie opened Penshurst Cottage Italian and Seafood Restaurant in September, 1991, going into partnership with Jackie’s parents Orlando and Rosa and her sister Jill and her husband, also called Ivan.
Before this, the family had Ricardo’s Spaghetti Restaurant in Caringbah and Orlando’s in Randwick and Ramsgate.
Their Italian Cottage restaurant at 606 Forest Road has become a second home for many of their customers but also their children, Suzie, 38 Sandra, 37, and David, 34, who grew up there working part-time helping out in the family business.
Now, David’s seven-year-old son, also named Orlando after his great-grandfather, stands on milk-crate to help out washing dishes in the restaurant kitchen
Jackie said this family has atmosphere spilled out into the restaurant dining room.
“We have had customers coming here for 28 years,” Jackie said. “Some of them came here when they were dating. Now their kids have grown up.
“Some our our customers are really upset that we are closing but they also understand and are happy for us to go into retirement.”
Ivan adds, “I’m closing down the business because I’m too busy. Other restaurants struggle to find customers. We never have.”
Their retirement is not the end of the Lajdes family’s involvement in hospitality. Their son David, is carrying on the family tradition, opening his own restaurant in Berry in the Southern Highlands.
“We bought a property in Berry 11 years ago for us to retire to,” Jackie said. “Then David said he would like to move there too.”
David is calling his business Tre Bambini Italian and Seafood and Ivan and Jackie may be helping out part-time.
Ivan thinks he will mean they will still be seeing a lot of their old customers.
“A lot of my customers go down south so I think they will be dropping in to check the new restaurant,” he said.
Jackie said the Penshurst Italian Cottage has seen many family celebrations of the years.
“There have been christenings, confirmations, weddings and anniversaries,” she said.
“We had one christening which started at midday and went till 2am.”
David said it is the customers who have made the atmosphere at Penshurst Cottage.
“Customers just walk in the door and say ‘We don’t need to see the menu’ and we know exactly what they will order,” he said.
“We tried to narrow the menu over the years down but they only wanted their regular dishes.”
David describes the food as more old school, al a carte, traditional.
His sister, Sandra adds, “It’s less fluff, more substance.”
As well as good food, Jackie said the secret of the Italian Cottage’s longevity is genuine service.
“It’s been very easy because we have beautiful customers,” she said.
“Working here I’ve learned there’s a lot of genuine, friendly people who are very caring and considerate.
“A lot of customers have been coming in to say goodbye. It’s hard saying goodbye,” Jackie said.
“I’d like to thank all our customers for their friendship and loyalty. We will miss them all.”