Iconic Mackay family business on the market after 86 years
ONE of Mackay's most historic businesses is up for sale.
Byrne's Pie Factory in Brisbane Street has been owned and operated by the Byrne family for the past 86 years, but it is time for Rhondell Byrne to finally hand over the reins as she prepares for retirement.
The Byrne's pie was created in 1932 when Ms Byrne's grandmother Marion Byrne first opened the iconic pie factory. Ms Byrne's father, Mervyn 'Snowy' Byrne, helped his mother in the factory for several years before taking over ownership when Marion passed away in 1940.
Ms Byrne and her brother Harold were in partnership with their father from 1975 until he died in 1997.
The brother-sister duo continued to provide the community with delicious pies, lamingtons, peach balls, apple turnovers and custard tarts for another 20 years.
"When my father ran the business we only sold pies and pastries, but it was Harold that introduced the apple turnovers and lamingtons," Ms Byrne said. "They were a big hit, and still are."
Harold tragically died 12 months ago, after a short battle with cancer, and since then running the business just hasn't felt the same for Ms Byrne.
"It's been really hard without him," she said.
"We were preparing ourselves for retirement for a little while, but he just left earlier."
Before the opening of the current factory in 1974, Byrne's Pies operated out of another building next to the Leichhardt Hotel, now a vacant block at the corner of Brisbane and River streets.
Ms Byrne can remember fondly the days when she would visit her grandparents in the old factory as a young girl.
"I can remember being taken there by Mum and Dad," she said.
"It was so small and they did such a big quantity of work in the small space.
"I remember watching the old staff that were there making the pasties and sausage rolls with the same technique that we use today."
The popularity of the Byrne's pie has grown steadily over the years, but it was in the time before fast food chains had come to Mackay that the factory was busiest.
"The factory has always been busy, but in the days before McDonalds and KFC we would sell so many pies," Ms Byrne said.
"We would have had around three cars out delivering pies every day to schools and shops in the area."
Penny Gibson has been the friendly face behind the counter at Byrne's Pie Factory for the past seven years and says she loves coming to work because every day is full of laughter. Every week Ms Gibson will see regular faces and has seen generations of families come through the shop.
"We have people that will come in with their kids who remember buying pies here when they were growing up," Ms Gibson said.
"We had a customer just yesterday who flew in from Perth and the first thing they did when they hopped off the plane was come here and buy a pie for breakfast.
"They hadn't even been home to see their mum and dad yet, they came here first and they'll be back later in the week to pick up a box of pies to take back on the plane with them."
Last week Ms Gibson saw two friends who hadn't seen each other for ten years reunite while buying a pie.
"One of the men had flown in from Tasmania and the other still lives in Mackay, and they both ran into each other while they were in the shop," Ms Gibson said.
"They gave each other a big hug, it was pretty special."
When asked what made the Byrne's pie so iconic, Ms Gibson said it came down to the tried and tested recipe they have been using for the past 86 years.
"People come in and say the pies taste exactly the same as they remember when they were young," Ms Gibson said.
Despite the memories making it difficult to leave, Ms Byrne said she was ready for the next chapter.
"It's been a lot of hard work over the years," she said. "I'm looking forward to relaxing and spending time with my two daughters and four grandchildren. I'm also going solo travelling. I want to go to Japan and Europe."
Only time will tell whether the Byrne's pie will live on through the store's new owners, but it already has a permanent place in the hearts of the people of Mackay.
The factory has been listed for sale by Knight Frank, and is selling as a freehold going concern. The 690 square metre building and additional improvements are available with the business and all plant. For more information or to arrange an inspection, contact Mark Kelly at Knight Frank Mackay or click here.