4 April 2024

'I need to be bored for a while': Top Wagga restaurant to hit the market as founders look for next adventure

| Chris Roe
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Grace Gribble and Richard Moffat are the familiar faces of Pastorale by Meccanico.

Grace Gribble and Richard Moffat are the familiar faces of Pastorale by Meccanico. Photo: Supplied.

Wagga’s foodie scene was buzzing this week with the news that premier dining venue Pastorale by Meccanico would soon go on the market.

Founder Richard Moffatt said that he and partner Grace wanted to get on the front foot and announce their decision to sell and keep their loyal customers in the loop.

“When you start something from scratch and put so much love and passion into it, that thing (in this case, Pastorale) becomes very personal to you,” Richard wrote on social media.

“So, we are in no rush to sell, nor are we willing to just sell to anyone. It has to be the right fit – for our staff, our customers and the vision of bettering Wagga Wagga’s liveability, which must continue and grow.”

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While he declared that it was “very much business as usual” at Pastorale, Richard reflected that the time had come for a hard-earned break and a new challenge.

“I probably just need to be bored for a few months if that makes sense,” he told Region with a laugh.

“It’s been full steam ahead since 2019 and I’ve probably been running on all jet engines and I think I just need to cool them for a while.

“I’ve got two young daughters, so one thing that I’m looking forward to is just being home at night and on the weekends and just having a little bit of normality for a while.”

Pastorale

Richard Moffatt says investing in staff is the key to great hospitality. Photo: Grant Harper.

Richard and former business partner Karl Hulford opened Meccanico Espresso + Wine, in November 2019 and, against the odds, built a successful hospitality brand through the pandemic.

“That first hit us within the first four months of opening up our business and the energy that went into adapting and changing and just weathering that storm was immense,” he said.

Pastorale by Meccanico was the next step, launching in the historic Riverine Club in March of 2021 and Richard and Karl parted ways in 2023 to each concentrate on a single venue.

“I’ve put myself forward as the face of Pastorale and that’s always worked well for us because we’ve driven the business to be more than just a service provider with food,” Richard said.

“I always had a vision that Wagga could have some really professional hospitality venues and not just the traditional pubs.

“I think that we really lifted the bar as far as the produce that we’re serving, the level of customer service that we’re providing and the sort of venues that we fitted out.”

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Beyond the dining experience, Richard said he was proud of the way they engaged with the community, supporting local charities and hosting special events, including Wagga’s largest outdoor dinner party on the iconic Wollundry Lagoon Bridge.

“Through our little business we’ve put over $100,000 into Ronald McDonald House; we put over $100,000 into Pro Patria and we’ve really worked to be front and centre within the community and to help drive things,” he said.

“The bridge dinner last year was also something I’m really proud of – and that was no small feat for a small business to shut down a bridge and do a dinner party of that size!

“It was a bit of a dream of mine to showcase the region and the produce that we have here so it was something pretty special.”

Richard Moffatt and Grace Gribble organised the Pastorale Dinner Party in 2023.

Richard Moffatt and Grace Gribble organised the Pastorale Dinner Party in 2023. Photo: David Bardos.

With no timeframe for the sale, Richard and the Pastorale team are not about to take their foot off the pedal and will continue to deliver the sort of service they have become known for.

“I think we’ve just really respected Wagga and the community by being able to provide those sorts of services,” he said.

“Wagga deserves really good venues with exceptional service and a good product.

“We shouldn’t have to go to Sydney or Melbourne to get that.”

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