10 August 2023

'I found family': Glenn and Karen Pallister reflect on the tough decision to farewell Wagga

| Shri Gayathirie Rajen
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man and woman in cafe

Le Brooks owners Glenn and Karen Pallister have put their cafe on the market. Photo: Shri Gayathirie Rajen.

Le Brooks Cafe owners Glenn and Karen Pallister are preparing for a bittersweet farewell to their shop and their time in Wagga Wagga.

The Pallisters moved to Wagga a couple of years ago for a tree change after living in Sydney and on the Central Coast, and wasted little time becoming immersed in the Riverina community.

“It’s an incredibly difficult decision,” Glenn says. “We’ve become very entrenched not just in the arcade [Australian Arcade] community but the Wagga community.

“We’ve been embraced by many here [Wagga] and in the region, with people coming over from Coolamon, Junee, Gainmain and Griffith who are regulars. They come over to have something to eat and say g’day.”

READ ALSO Five Minutes with Mr and Mrs Pallister, Le Brooks Cafe – Sandwich, Soup & Coffee Bar

Karen was born in Wagga and says despite a sense of belonging, she and Glenn have had to make the call to prioritise family and head back to the Central Coast.

“With elderly parents, it’s become apparent we have to be back near family,” she says.

“I said to my mum we’d be back by maybe September and she was thrilled. I could tell that it was the right decision.

“As much as it displaces us, we’re back with our family, our boys and parents.”

woman in cafe

Karen Pallister at Le Brooks Cafe. Photo: Supplied.

The couple saw a sense of relief when they shared the news of moving back with their son.

“He said to me, Dad, you’re just so far away,” Glenn says.

“It was like he’d been waiting two years to say it and felt like he probably couldn’t because he didn’t want us to feel guilty.”

Born and raised in Wagga, Karen moved away when was 18 and her family soon followed, settling on the Central Coast.

Karen says she’s always had a strong connection to Wagga, with a good friend base, and came down every school holiday with her boys.

man holding coffee beans in cafe

Glenn Pallister has enjoyed connecting with the Riverina community. Photo: Supplied.

However, the move will be much harder for Glenn, who has become firmly entrenched with the Wagga Kangaroos Rugby League Club, where he has forged many friendships.

Born and bred in Sydney, Glenn is an only child and had never known any family on his father’s side until just six months ago.

He was blown away when a good friend in Wagga messaged him out of the blue to say that they might be related.

He discovered he and his friend shared the same great-grandfather, making them second cousins.

“I’ve never known and my parents never spoke of it,” Glenn explains.

”They never knew there was a family down here, but due to family reasons, Dad had no contact with them after I was born.

“It’s like we came here for a reason and I found family.

“It wasn’t just one person, we found a clan!”

Glenn says before meeting his new family, he only had one blood relative on his mother’s side.

He says it’s not goodbye to Wagga as the couple plan to come back for events and to visit family.

“It’s been a special time here and we’ve made beautiful friends and the connection is just indelible with family,” he said.

READ ALSO Riverina Conservatorium of Music is all set for a new beginning

The Pallisters are in search of the right owners for their cafe and would like to spend time with the changeover and introduce them to the older customers they had for a long time.

“It [Le Brooks] comes with a lot of gearings, recipes and a solid customer base who are loyal,” Glenn says.

”And if you treat them right, they will keep coming back.

“It’s 8 am to 2 pm Monday to Friday and no weekends, which is something that stood out to us to buy a cafe and do those hours.

“As Karen says, we do three things and we do them well: sandwiches, coffee and soup, and we try and stay in that lane.”

Karen says the couple wasn’t about reinventing the wheel with the business and kept the original name out of respect for its history while adding their personal touches with a signature coffee blend and catering.

“Catering was something that came to us and it came to us through word of mouth,” she says.

The couple says if someone is business savvy and wants to be proactive and expand, the opportunity is there for the taking.

To find out more about Le Brooks Cafe, click here.

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