TWO childhood friends have reunited to take on the running of one of Bendigo's most popular and highly regarded restaurants.
The Woodhouse owner and chef Paul Pitcher opened The Woodhouse in 2012, and he first listed the restaurant for sale hoping to entice a tree-changing chef to take a regional escape.
It's no surprise to many that the last couple of years have been tough, and restaurateurs and chefs didn't - and couldn't - escape the perils of lockdowns and subsequent staffing issues during the pandemic.
Throughout this, Mr Pitcher started discussions with his long-time childhood friend Tony Panetta, and now The Woodhouse is off the market and the wood-fires will be re-ignited with new enthusiasm and the combined talents of both long-time executive chefs.
After decades in the city, Mr Panetta returns to Bendigo with his young family, after stints as executive chef at the International Convention and Exhibition Centre in Sydney and the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre. More recently, he headed up the rejuvenated Continental aka The Conti in Sorrento, alongside Scott Pickett.
"The Woodhouse has evolved a lot over the last ten years, and are excited about this next step; working together now" co-owner Paul Pitcher said.
"Although we've known each other since we were 12, and have supported each other since then, in 2019, we went to a trade show for four days, then spent the rest of the month dining at the best restaurants and bars in Chicago, Los Angeles and New York.
"This really planted the seed to create something great together, and to combine our talents" Mr Panetta said.
The Woodhouse has launched a new menu, featuring produce from Victor Churchill and Black Onyx Angus, as well as favourites Sher Wagyu, O'Conner Beef, Roaring Forties lamb, McIvor Park pork and fresh local produce from across central Victoria.
The restaurant will soon be open seven days, plugging an empty chasm for tourists to the region, and a local offering of a long lazy Sunday lunches for friends and family, as well as a Monday evening service, which at the moment is virtually non-existent in Bendigo.
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