Pia Etteldorf and husband Ray have owned and managed the Old Butter Factory Café in Bellingen since 2009.
“We took over the Café from Robert & Guus Brunnekref on the day after the flood on March 31, 2009. An interesting start to our journey! 6 weeks later we experienced our second flood,” says Pia.
Some might say this was a traditional Bellingen greeting.
Over the past decade we have watched Pia imprint her own sense of style and love of hosting larger events on this iconic venue. The recent addition of Friday night drinks and tapas at the Old Butter Factory Café seemed like a great reason for Rod to catch up with Pia.
What brought you to Bellingen?
Ray and I discovered the beautiful valley of Bellingen in 2000 during a trip from Tamworth to stay with friends in Sawtell. At the time Tamworth was in a drought and Bellingen looked so beautifully green … it reminded me a little of home (Germany).
What did you & Ray do before coming to Bellingen?
My background is hospitality management. I met Ray while I was working as the Assistant Director of Catering at the Four Seasons in Sydney.
After getting married in 1995, I joined Ray’s event production company producing large scale corporate events in Australia and overseas.
In 1999 we took on a residency managing the Tamworth Regional Entertainment Centre (TREC). This lasted for 2 years after which time we came to Bellingen and bought The Old Butter Factory.
How has the business changed over the past decade?
It took us a couple of years to find our own identity.
Over the years we have managed to attract a broader clientele, creating a relaxed environment for families and people with pets. Family gatherings with bookings for 20 – 30 people is now quite common for us.
We have also created a child-friendly space and playground, which lets parents take a little break. And a new gelato bar which is proving really popular on these warm Summer days.
You are now open Friday evenings for happy hour and tapas. Will this be ongoing?
We always felt that late afternoon and early evening is a beautiful time at the Old Butter Factory and wanted to share it with people. The tapas concept with happy hour fills this gap.
We are trying to attract people coming from work for a sun downer and a bite to eat and catch up with colleagues and friends before the start of the weekend.
We hope to be able to establish it as a regular event, even in winter.
What do you find most rewarding about working there?
I love the location and enjoy working with my great team of staff, some of whom have been with us for the last decade.
What you do in your spare time?
Anybody in hospitality or who owns a business knows that spare time is the hardest thing to achieve, despite being so necessary.
My spare time is mostly spent with our dog ‘Will” walking the beach, throwing balls and swimming.
Your best memory of childhood was?
Growing up in Germany, it was the pre-christmas period. It starts at the beginning of December with St Niklas, daily opening of the Christmas calendar for chocolate treats, visiting Christmas markets and then finally Christmas Eve with exchanging gifts, eating too much food and finishing with Midnight Mass.
Your best sporting moment was?
Sadly, I never had one !!!!!
What would you like to be remembered for?
My honesty and integrity.
What are you reading right now?
Elena Ferrante … My brilliant friend.
What are you listening to right now?
I am a bit stuck on Fleetwood Mac and Bruno Mars…. but I like all kinds of music.
What really annoys you?
Nosey people… I do like my privacy.
The best lesson your parents taught you?
Be proud of your achievements …
The last big belly laugh you had was?
Dressing up ‘Will” my dog in an elf costume ….
What project are you currently working on?
I am trying to develop a retail side to our business with selling regional produce like chutneys, jams, cheeses etc. So if anybody out there is interested, please call us.
How do you relax?
Walking in fresh air … and yoga
I just rediscovered camomile tea … what an awesome beverage before bed!
Favourite restaurant in the Shire?
Popla was to me the most exciting restaurant in a long time… sadly it closed.
I love Lior’s food at the Cornerstore… also have had some delicious food at Cedar Bar.
The previous career you wish you could forget?
Working in house keeping in a hotel …. I am the worst cleaning lady, ask my girlfriends!
Favourite holiday destination & why?
Bella Italia … I totally fell in love with Rome on a recent trip to Italy. The history, the architecture, the food, the people, but mostly the language … I am currently learning Italian…
In the movie Piagate, who would play you?
Wouldn’t it be great to be as talented as Meryl Streep … the freedom of being able to play anyone!