Every cloud has a silver lining, an old saying, but never so true than what people have found during Covid.
Cameron Ivchenko of Odessa at Leaver’s Hotel in Creswick has used the ‘down time’ over the past twelve months to rebrand the venue. The first change was to engage a new chef, Kitt Mukaprom and introduce a Thai cuisine. The first weekend it proved to be a ‘baptism of fire’ for Kitt as they completely sold out both days. Although Kitt specialises in Thai food, there are other dishes on the menu for those who shy away from spice.
As a consequence of Covid, where artists and performers were restricted in where they could travel and perform, Odessa at Leavers took advantage of the lockdown and engaged internationally known Australian artist C. W. Stoneking for a gig. Normally, the performer wouldn’t play in a small country town, but he loved his time in Creswick and has promised to come back. The popularity of this session changed focus for Cam who realised that they had a music destination on their hands. They are now working on plans to expand the music. On the list for the near future are artists Wendy Rule, Opal Ocean, Jarrod Shaw and more.
Together with featured artists, there will be the opportunity for jam sessions, which “can happen on any night without notice”. Mixed in with the music, there are plans afoot for artists sessions including storytelling, poetry, spoken word events, exhibitions and whatever else may present itself
A recent very popular event was gin tastings with Basil Liardis of Hepburn Distillery. Thursday nights are earmarked as open mike nights, designed for locals, but everyone is welcome.
Cam recognises the attraction of a dedicated music venue in a small town that will draw visitors from other regions. This in itself is a bonus for the town although adding pressure especially in the incessant drive for that work/family balance.
Plans for the very near future, especially moving into winter include expanding the outside area with more tables, installing extra outdoor heating and wind protection and creating an entertainment precinct. The open fire makes the inside area especially inviting and adds to the ambience of this interesting venue. Throughout the lockdowns and now during recovery the locals have been very supportive and have taken advantage of the take away menus, which are ongoing. The history of the building and the town itself holds great interest to customers and visitors.
Odessa at Leaver’s is open Thursday and Friday – 4.30 to close for dinner. Saturday 8.30am until late for dinner and Sunday, 8.30am to 6pm for breakfast and lunch. Odessa’s is also available for private functions.