2 June 2023

Griffith mum revamps eatery Tucker Den in first business venture

| Oliver Jacques
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Amanda Elvy and Valda O'Bryan outside Tucker Den

Amanda Elvy and Valda O’Bryan, AKA ‘Grandma’, outside Tucker Den. Photo: Oliver Jacques.

A word-of-mouth eatery hidden in Griffith’s industrial district has a new owner for the first time in 34 years.

Amanda Elvy, a 35-year-old single mum with four kids, has embarked on a business venture for the first time – taking over the longstanding Tucker Den at 25 Collier Street from Veronica Anderson, who owned it since 1989.

“Veronica was one of my regular customers when I was working as a waitress at Station 4 Cafe, she mentioned to me she was selling it, I thought I’d give it a go,” Ms Elvy said.

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The first-time entrepreneur is already making her mark, broadening the appeal of the store beyond its traditional base of hungry tradies who only knew about Tucker Den because their mates went there.

“A lot of people don’t know where this place is. There was no social media, no advertising. It was a strictly cash only business. I’ve introduced EFTPOS for the first time. We now have a Facebook page, we’ve been pushing that around. We also got an Instagram page.

“On Saturday mornings, I’m now getting a few families coming through – people doing sport. There’s nothing in Yoogali, I’m the closest point to them … but tradies are still our biggest clients. They come round for smoko, my busiest time is between 9:30 am to 10:30 am.”

Ms Elvy is also gradually expanding the business.

“We’re now doing deliveries. I’m already paying rent, so I thought why not serve people a bit more. If we have the opportunity to drop things off, we are happy to do that. Things are getting harder, so you may as well use what you can.

“We are already doing coffee, but I’m planning on getting a coffee machine put in. Hopefully, it’ll get to the point where I can employ a couple more girls and be busy full-time.”

Ms Elvy has spent decades working in hospitality, including 10 years at Indian restaurant 99 Spices and later at Station 4 Cafe. But she quickly learned that running her own business was a different beast.

Outside of Tucker Den

Tucker Den is hidden in the industrial district. Photo: Supplied.

“My sister [Nicole Williams] and I came in the first day – we had no idea what we were doing, I left in tears. It was just the two of us, we did $675; we were flipping burgers, it was hectic, but we got there in the end.

“But we are doing well now, thankfully I have a village to help me. My sister comes to help for a couple of days a week. On Friday, when it’s busy I have a couple of friends come through … I’m very lucky to have a village.”

An integral part of her village is 73-year-old Valda O’Bryan, her best friend’s grandma.

“Everyone in town knowns her as ‘Grandma’, she’s the grill master. People say she makes the best hamburgers in town.”

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Ms O’Bryan said: “I have known Amanda since she was a little girl, I am very proud of her … I used to work as a nurse and then I worked in two cafes before. I’ll be here for as long as she needs me.”

Grandma also prepares homemade sweet treats, like raspberry slice, caramel slice, zucchini date and walnut loaves. Tucker Den continues to offer its usual wraps, sandwiches, burgers, ice creams, soft drinks, bread and milk.

The newly revamped business is now entering its third month, and Ms Elvy isn’t looking back.

“At first, I thought what the heck have I got into? But I don’t have any regrets. I can go back to a job with a wage anytime. I’ve always worked in hospitality, it’s something I love.”

Tucker Den, on 25 Collier Street, is open Monday through to Saturday. More information about what they offer is on their Facebook page.

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