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Doreen Cooper, Harbourview @ The Northbridge Club

“I’ve lived and worked in Willoughby and Northbridge for nearly my entire life. I haven’t moved very far at all. My parents migrated from Italy in 1951 and when they married they took over my uncle’s fruit shop in Willoughby. It still exists – it’s now called Willoughby Fresh. And that’s where we all lived together on top of that fruit shop until I married and they retired shortly after. A lot of people know who my parents were because back in the 60s your local greengrocer was a very important part of your life. I loved growing up in the back of the fruit shop. You’d come home from school and help bag potatoes, fill the drinks fridge, serve customers while Mum and Dad took it in turns to have dinner. That’s how it was. We knew everyone. For school I went to St Thomas’ in Willoughby and then Mercy College in Chatswood. It’s so lovely because my granddaughter is a student at St Thomas’ now. In the 1990s I owned a little sandwich shop on Sailors Bay Road in Northbridge. I was asked to come in and cook for the local Rotarians at Northbridge Golf Club after I finished work. Eventually in 2000 I came here full time and started my business, Harbourview @ The Northbridge Club which has the catering license here. It’s been 16 years now and as well as catering all the golf events we are open for lunch every day of the week and Friday night for dinner. It’s always a great night for local families; members and non-members alike. But our main business is events – sporting presentations, local community groups having their end-of-year recitals, christenings, bar mitzvahs, wakes, weddings, engagement parties, milestone birthday parties… you name it! We’ve even done two 100th birthdays. My favourite aspect is getting to know the local families and watching them grow as they come in for their babies’ christenings then back again for their First Communions. That’s a really special thing for me to see. I’ve also got a great group of young staff who work here with me – most have just done their HSC. They’re all locals, and they’ll stay with me and I’ll be their mentor for the next 3 or 4 years while they’re at uni. I’ve done that with a few generations of kids and I love it. People say I know everyone in the area. When you work and live in the suburb that you’ve been born, it’s only a matter of time before your paths cross with everyone!”

Photo: Simon Ward