By Alana Mitchelson
BERWICK’s iconic fine dining restaurant Clover Cottage will close down early next year after its private sale last month.
The existing owner John Chipperfield told the Gazette that the eight-acre Manuka Road property had been sold to an investment company.
“They have no intention to subdivide,” the 72-year-old said.
“They haven’t purchased it as a business. Whether it’s leased out as a restaurant or not, I have no clue.
“I hope it will get looked after and I’m sure it will.”
The final restaurant night at Clover Cottage will be on New Year’s Eve, with booked functions such as weddings continuing through January and early February.
Mr Chipperfield recalled that the property had been merely a paddock when he and his wife Engelina, in partnership with Trevor Burr, had bought the land from tea merchant Fred Tuckfield’s estate in 1974.
Clover Cottage opened at its Manuka Road site in 1979, with the Chipperfields living in the original cottage at the back of the restaurant. Their 1860s weatherboard house had been one of two twin cottages that was used as a country retreat by the Armytage family, who owned South Yarra’s Como House.
From the start, the ambience and abundant smorgasbord ensured full-house bookings. In the restaurant’s first 60 days, 58 were booked out.
The Chipperfields have had many loyal staff members over the years, some staying with them for more than 30 years.
“It’s very sad and difficult for us to part with the cottage after years of developing the business and servicing people in the Berwick community for a good 40 years,” Mr Chipperfield said.
“We’ve waited on many celebrities, but it hasn’t been the high flyers keeping us alive all these years, it’s been our guests who have saved their hard-earned dollars for a special dinner at the cottage.
“It’s been an amazing journey.
“But sadly, it’s time.”