The story behind Mudbar Restaurant from the eyes of our owner, Don Cameron.
In the little town I started in there were two restaurants, and mine was one of them. When I started cooking, there was a pizza house and a couple of pubs and that was it, and now there are about 50 eating places in that little town. Things are very different now. People eat out more, but the risk is greater as business is harder today. But it’s still about doing business properly, now more than ever. If somebody asked me what the reason for my success was, it’s that my late wife knew how to look after the customers and that she taught me how to teach our staff how to do the same – that’s the real key.
Mudbar is my fifth restaurant in Tasmania. We have a tourism trade which goes up and down. It’s taken probably twenty or thirty years to go from 500,000 to 1.2 million tourists. And, of course, it’s taken as long to build a solid business—it takes a fair bit of ‘stick-to-activity.’ I’ve been involved in the industry for over half a century now and it’s something I love, something I’ve always enjoyed.
I started as an apprentice in a hotel and I didn’t want to stay because to hotels you were just a number and at restaurants you could affect what your customer consumed. It’s a passion for doing a good job. And doing a good job in this instance was making people happy. If you want people to return to you, you’ve got to make them happy.
My late wife Mel Cameron was a pioneer in hospitality in Tasmania, she was the passionate second half to me who’s passion was her customers. She sadly passed away in 2015 after a long bout with cancer, so teamwork is a very emotive issue for us in the restaurant. After this my staff and I got together and started working on how we could bring together her thoughts on how she would serve and we put it all together into the sentence: Customer first every day in every way. But really that’s what we’ve been doing for the last 30 years. We have a handbook in the restaurant that’s just for our staff. It’s written by us, but it’s all about my late wife Mel. The Handbook of Mel’s Way, which means the customer is the only reason we’re here.
Our work culture is about genuine care for the customer in every way, and that can be clean tables, spotless bathrooms, good service, a big smile, all those things—but it has to be genuine. People, whether it be our customers or staff, can always tell the difference between forced and authentic, genuine service. We never want anything to be contrived here.
If you’re going to have success in the business you’ve got to be as generous as you can. I am as generous as I can be with my staff. I’m as generous as I can with the customer. You need to be generous. I created the environment and have injected into the staff the culture that was Mel and myself.
Quality food, quality service, customer first all the time and it creates a feeling with the staff. Working on a staff culture is a day-to-day, second-by-second thing. We do a good job when it comes to evolving with the times and I can taste it and I love it. It’s right and I’m really excited by that.