End of an era: Pair hang up baker's hats for final time
LAST week spelt the end of an era for an iconic Bowen eatery, with new owners ready to take over the reins and steer it into the future.
It was a bittersweet moment for Jayne and Paddy O'Regan last Friday when they hung up their baker's hat at Jochheims Pies for the final time.
The duo has now sold the iconic business to long-term employees, Tuan Vy and Thai Thuy, as they step away to focus on their health and to spend more time with their family.
It's a move that wasn't taken lightly by the couple, who have the bakery flowing through their veins.
The couple had grown up around the bakery before they became the owners in 1999, with the sale being the first time a non-Jochheim owns the establishment.
Mrs O'Regan's parents, Darcy and Merle Jochheim, purchased the bakery from Darcy's uncle Stan, and she had grown up around the business.
Mr O'Regan began with Jochheims in 1976 as a baker and hasn't looked back since, waking up at 2am every morning to serve the people of Bowen their fresh bread and pies.
The shop has seen a significant change since the pair took over, transforming from only a bakery to a 65-seat cafe that Mr O'Regan calls "the third home to many locals”.
On reflection, the transformation to the cafe setting was an extremely smart business decision, however, it's one that took locals a little "getting used to”.
"We look at it now and it was a great move but it took a while for people to look past just grabbing their food and going,” he said.
"Now it's their third home. They have their house, their work and Jochheims.
"It's like another family for some.”
Coffee was introduced when the duo took over, and interestingly another vice was removed, cigarettes.
"It sounds crazy now but everyone sold cigarettes at the time,” Mrs O'Regan said.
"I remember when we took over and removed them we heard we wouldn't survive, but I think the love of coffee far overtook that.”
Over the years the bakery has welcomed some special guests, none so more popular than Hugh Jackman when he was in town to film Australia.
Mr O'Regan said he was "down to earth, and humble” and treated all of his staff with respect.
"The first day he came by, he got out of the car and there was paparazzi on the other side of the road snapping away,” Mr O'Regan said.
"He didn't mind the paps, but he didn't like his children being exposed to it so I asked if he wanted to come through the back in future and he said yes. He was so nice, he would come in and know all of the staff by name and ask how we were.”
The arrival of the crew of Australia led to one of Mrs O'Regan's favourite moments, when Hamish Blake from the comedy duo Hamish and Andy called to prank the bakery.
"Paddy had been working since 2am on a Friday and it was about 3pm when he got a phone call from Hamish pretending to be Nicole Kidman's manager who was disappointed there were food items dedicated to Baz Lurhman and Hugh Jackman and none for Kidman,” she said.
"There was a back and forth for a while and Paddy, who was exhausted, wasn't sure how to react.
"Eventually Hamish asked him to make her a 'Kidman-go cheesecake'. When he got the phone call back to say he had been pranked Paddy wasn't as happy as Hamish was on the other side, that's for sure.”
Mrs O'Regan said the last day was an emotionally difficult day and they were overwhelmed by the support that had flown to them from Bowen and further afield.
"We've been so involved in the community and they've been such a part of us, so it really was difficult,” she said.
"It's been hard to walk away, but we know that Tuan and Thai will make positive changes while keeping Jochheims the same place everyone loves.
"The future holds more sleep-ins and time with our family, and we're really looking forward to it.”
Mr Vy and Ms Thuy wanted to thank the couple for their hard work and said they would continue their legacy.
"Our business will continue to provide the best service,” Mr Vy said.
"Thank you for supporting Jochheims Pies for many years and we wish the best and thank Jayne and Paddy.”