Owners of One Up Bar and Bistro Trish and Brendan Lowry with daughter Tess, son Matt and nephew Jayden.
Owners of One Up Bar and Bistro Trish and Brendan Lowry with daughter Tess, son Matt and nephew Jayden. Kari Bourne

This seachange is real deal

THEY were once the stars of the 2006 reality TV show The Real Seachange, having swapped six-figure salaries, rat races and corporate Melbourne for a stint running a pub on Tasmania's Bruny Island.

But Trish and Brendan Lowry promise their latest move to the Sunshine Coast will see them pack away their gypsy shoes for a good while yet.

Flash back to the mid-2000s.

Brendon was an Elders rural bank state manager and Trish was a PA to a national manager with Westpac.

"We lived in this beautiful penthouse in Richmond, but we were paying a fortune in taxes, we were stuck in traffic every day, we had a two-year-old and we said 'this isn't working'," Trish said.

"So we had to make a change. A friend of ours told us about the pub on Bruny Island that was for sale and we were adamant that we weren't buying a pub and we weren't moving to Tasmania.

"But that's where we ended up. We had that for six years."

The couple then put the pub on the market for 18 months and, once it sold, "put the kid and a 12-month-old Dalmatian in a caravan" and took off on an adventure up the east coast.

Their travels saw them visit the Sunshine Coast on four separate occasions, opening daughter Tess' eyes to a new man in her dad.

"Every time we came here Tess would say 'who are you and what have you done with my father' because he relaxed. He was a different person, and I told him this place was his spiritual home.

"So we stayed here. We didn't have a business in mind, but we knew we weren't going back into hospitality."

Best laid plans, as the Lowrys found with their Bruny Island pub, often go awry.

They took over the upstairs tenancy at 121 Brisbane Rd, Mooloolaba, in the former Earth premises, to open One Up Bar and Bistro in June.

They are renting in Alexandra Headland and soaking up the Coast lifestyle.

"Tess loves it here. She played soccer for Immanuel and it's the first time she's had the opportunity to play team sport. Her old school had 60 kids on a good day, and now there's 900.

"All she said when we were looking for somewhere to live was that we had to have a pool in the backyard and a beach nearby.

"Everything appeals ... the location, climate, facilities, the shopping.

"We believe the Coast is somewhere we'll be for a long time."

The One Up Bar aims its modern Australian food and drinks at the casual, 25-plus market of families, businesspeople and couples.

"We want people to walk out the door saying they had good food, good drinks, great views and excellent service, and it didn't cost an arm and a leg.

"We offer a bit more of a relaxed vibe than what is already here (on the Esplanade), where you sit down and you have to order straight away.

"Plus our location gives you a bit of discretion and seclusion."

The seven-day-a-week business employs 12 staff, including four chefs and two family members working behind the bar.

"When we first walked in, we deliberately didn't look out the windows because we wanted to get a feel for the place.

"Then we were offered a deal we couldn't say no to and as it progressed, people told us that locals won't walk up stairs. We said they will if we make it worth their while.

"We have a chef who worked for six years on Chapel St and the reputation is getting out there.

"In all the time we've been open, we've only had one complaint about the food and that was because there was too much meat on the meat platter. So I don't know how you deal with that."

And Trish said opening a bar and bistro on the expensive Mooloolaba Esplanade in the middle of both winter and a tough economy was not a concern.

"It gave us time to assess things. If we had have opened in the middle of October and hit the ground running, we wouldn't have had time to reflect or do a post mortem.

"This way, we've been able to smooth out some bumps, swap things around a bit and work out what we're doing.

"We did budget for this, but we are trading a lot better than we thought we would be."


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