Nerissa McCluskey, restaurateur
I love that there are lots of young people seeing holes in the market and creating new venues. They put everything they have into it and have so much passion and drive ...
For Nerissa McCluskey, getting into the hospitality industry as a teenager was meant to be a stepping stone onto something else. But as time progressed, so did her love for the industry, fuelled by an appreciation for food, coffee and cocktails. Fast forward to now, and Nerissa and husband Mitch are at the helm of three of the Gold Coast’s most popular establishments – Commune, Etsu Izakaya, Aloha Bar, and they’re also the foodie forces behind the incredibly popular Feast Under a Tipi Events. Nerissa took time out to have a chat to us about bike rides, foodie vibes and avoiding paperwork.
We’ll take it back a bit – where did your love for the food and drink industry originally stem from?
I have always worked in hospitality since I was 14 years old. Probably because it’s the easiest or only job that you can get when you are 14! I then worked in lots of different cafes and restaurants around the Gold Coast and met so many lifelong friends doing so. It was never intended to be my career, just a stepping stone, but then along the way I realised that I loved it. Through all of my ‘hospo’ jobs, I was around so many bosses who loved food and I started to appreciate amazing food, coffee and cocktails … and now our lives are all about it.
Who or what has been your biggest influence?
Travel. Seeing things that we don’t have available here on the Gold Coast, knowing that we want it, and that so many other Gold Coasters would love it too.
What was your very first job?
McDonald’s. It’s the only place that would hire a 14 year old. I was dying for a job and begged my parents to get me one. I have always loved working. At one stage I had three jobs at once.
Across Etsu, Commune, Aloha and Feast Under a Tipi, you guys have got a lot on your plate! What would you say is the most challenging part what you do? And what is the most rewarding?
The most challenging for me is the paper work that is involved. So I avoid it and get Mitch to do it! The most rewarding is providing fun, happy, efficient workplaces and seeing all the staff become friends and enjoy coming to work, which is what I loved about working in the industry.
Tell us, what is inspiring you on the Gold Coast at the moment?
I love that there are lots of young people seeing holes in the market and creating new venues. They put everything they have into it and have so much passion and drive.
What’s your take on the Gold Coast dining scene’s growth over the past two years?
It’s crazy. It’s so great. We eat out all the time so we absolutely love it. There are so many options and so many suburban, local restaurants that are amazing. Our latest favourite is Lucky Bao in Mermaid Waters. We love supporting our locals.
What’s your perfect day off?
A bike ride along the esplanade with hubby. Catching up with family and friends for food and wine, then heading up to Burleigh headland to lay on the grass and watch the ocean.
YOUR FAVOURITE LOCAL PLACE TO:
Perk up … Commune (close to home and totally biased). When we are working at Etsu we love heading to Alfred’s Diner, or if we are at Aloha, we head to No Name Lane.
Dine … Glenelg Public House for the best steaks in the world and Social because they are always amazing.
Be inspired … Our balcony at home, people watching.
Relax … Rick Shores, with a glass of wine and the delicious bug rolls, sitting in the outside area near the sand.