Nelson Bay Bowling Club appoints new CEO and restaurant owner

TEAM WORK: Nelson Bay Bowling Club's newly appointed CEO Richard Girvan (right) with Marlins At The Bay owner John Panetta.
TEAM WORK: Nelson Bay Bowling Club's newly appointed CEO Richard Girvan (right) with Marlins At The Bay owner John Panetta.

After a short period of operating without a general manager, the Nelson Bay Bowling Club has looked within to appoint a new CEO to help guide it through the tough economic times.

Richard Girvan, the club's former operating manager and a highly decorated New Zealand-born lawn bowler, has the job of turning around the club's finances and initiating a new and exciting era for the popular establishment.

The former Commonwealth Games and world championship gold medalist believes that the upstairs restaurant could be pivotal in helping to drive the turnaround.

"The restaurant has a new owner [John Panetta] and a new name [Marlins At The Bay], and initial feedback from patrons has been very encouraging," Mr Girvan said.

"Food is very important to any establishment and we are fortunate to have the services of a reputable restaurateur. It is a matter of serving the right food for the right demographic."

Mr Girvan said that competition among licensed premises in the Bay was stronger than ever and the challenge was to provide bowling club members with a point of difference.

"Our membership numbers do fluctuate according to the seasons, but unfortunately we cannot do much about that," he said.

"Gaming is an important ingredient for any licensed establishment and we want to hold our own against the strong competition on the peninsula. We will also be looking to do a little more with entertainment and live music."

One area the club will not compromise on is the ongoing support to the community and local charity organisations.

"Last year we contributed $40,000 in club grants to local sporting clubs, charities and not-for-profits."

Boasting some of the best water views in the Bay, the new-look Marlins At The Bay (formerly Tails restaurant) has brought new meaning to traditional 'club food'.

Italian-born John Penetta made his name in the restaurant business in the heart of Sydney's Italian community in Leichhardt, running a restaurant there for many years before moving to Mosman.

"I was brought up in an Italian family with a long line of cooks and since entering the restaurant business more than 20 years ago I have worked in both clubs and pubs so I have a good feel for the food industry," he said.

"I grew up in an environment where we ate what we prepared, using fresh ingredients for homestyle meals. And that's what we have introduced at Marlins.

"We have a modern Australian menu but with an Italian influence. Our chicken schnitzels are marinated in buttermilk and crumbed in Italian herbs and our veal marsala is a speciality."