A new beginning for Berwick dining

The table is set and Little Ratoons is open for dine-in. 220068_24

By Danielle Kutchel

Opening a new business in the middle of a global pandemic may seem counterintuitive, but that’s exactly what Damian and the team at Little Ratoons opted to do – and so far, it’s paying off nicely.

Damian, a chef by trade with an impressive resume (he’s worked for big names like Attica and Ten Minutes by Tractor), said they decided to just go for it. The first few weeks saw plenty of trial and error, testing and evaluation, with a portion of the restaurant’s takings being donated to charity.

For the first little while Little Ratoons was restricted to takeaway due to Covid restrictions – but with lockdown lifted, they’re keen to kick off and meet locals properly.

Little Ratoons has taken over the site where Ambrosia used to be, on Bemersyde Drive in Berwick, and the two could not be more different.

Little Ratoons has a “fun and funky vibe”, Damian explained, a family-friendly, pub-meets-fine-dining eatery and bar with an ever-changing menu to surprise diners with each week. Drinks and ingredients are all sourced locally, which is why, Damian said, the menu can’t ever be locked in; it’s based on what’s available at pick up from suppliers.

“It keeps the kitchen spicy and keeps everyone on their toes!” Damian said.

Even the name harks back to the vibe – ‘ratoon’ refers to new sprouts, or in this case, new beginnings.

Community is a big part of the Little Ratoons ethos too, with Damian keen to see what residents want in their new local. One of the reasons he sources his ingredients from small businesses is because he wants to see them grow and thrive too.

Having lost friends and colleagues to suicide, Damian said mental health is another important factor in the business. Staff at Little Ratoons participate in a mental health program upon being hired, and also have access to more mental health days than government regulations stipulate, just in case they need them. During lockdown, Little Ratoons encouraged visitors who live locally to walk down for their coffee or food, to get the endorphins flowing.

Now, he’s encouraging people to step out, dine in, and take part in the “new wave of beginning after Covid lockdown”. With a beer garden out the back and upstairs dining, there’s plenty of room for everyone.

“It’s all about getting some happiness back in people’s lives,” Damien said.

Little Ratoons is located at 13/84 Bemersyde Drive, Berwick. Follow them on Facebook or find out more at littleratoons.com.au