Vanjak back in business
By DARRYN NUFER
AS Dennis Vanjak puts it: "When I give up is when I die.''
The defiant Rockhampton restaurateur is set to reopen Feelgood's Family Restaurant on Monday.
When I caught up with Mr Vanjak this week he spoke candidly about his troubled past, and laid to rest any myth about his building, the former bombed Shark Night Club, being cursed. Feelgood's, at the corner of Bolsover and Fitzroy streets, has been closed since March after a destructive blaze engulfed the building.
It was the second time one of Mr Vanjak's restaurants had caught alight.
He moved to Rockhampton after losing $2.8 million when his Brisbane restaurant was destroyed by fire and the company he was insured through, HIH, went bust.
Most Central Queenslanders recognise Mr Vanjak as the man who became embroiled in the $6000 unpaid parking fines fiasco.
That led to him being fined almost as much as a result of court action taken by Rockhampton City Council over him parking his distinctive black BMW in a loading zone outside his business.
This week Mr Vanjak said he had never considered giving up, and the delay in reopening was due to a combination of "bureaucracy and not being able to get staff''.
"It took me seven weeks to organise staff,'' he said.
"I advertised with two sandwich boards outside the business and I even put one up at Centrelink but nobody wanted to work.''
Mr Vanjak has hired 13 staff, including four former employees.
He said fire and water damage from the March fire had cost him $70,000 to repair.
He estimated an operating loss of close to $300,000 since.
"The building's not cursed ? a ceiling fan caught on fire in the ladies toilets,'' Mr Vanjak said.
As for the parking fines: "It's not bad luck, that's me, I didn't want to move (my car) from there.
"The fire was just bad timing.''
Mr Vanjak said he was looking forward to catching up with his loyal customers again.
However, his best ever customer, Malcolm, won't be around to see the reopening.
He recently died, aged 85.
"He used to come in every single day,'' Mr Vanjak said.
"We've got a good following. For the things we are giving, it's the cheapest in town.''
The business will open for lunch from 11.30am to 2pm, and dinner (Monday-Saturday) from 6pm to 9pm.