NEW BEGINNING: Iyas Shaheen, Mandy Coles, Paul Heatley and Jennifer Heatley are the new owners of Sorrento Restaurant and Bar.
NEW BEGINNING: Iyas Shaheen, Mandy Coles, Paul Heatley and Jennifer Heatley are the new owners of Sorrento Restaurant and Bar. Contributed

This iconic Whitsunday venue has new owners

SYNONYMOUS with Airlie Beach, the iconic waterfront venue Sorrento is a local institution, and it's under new management.

The transition has been so seamless, you may not have even noticed, and it's a testament to the new owners that the entire back-of-house team has remained at the venue, including head chef Lukasz Pieczkolau.

The story begins with two couples, Mandy Coles and Iyas Sheehan and Jennifer and Paul Heatley, who met a decade ago, when their children started school together.

Fast-forward, and the couples are not only lifelong friends, but business partners and they are firm in the belief of, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it".

The venue locals have fallen in love with isn't going anywhere; in fact, there have been some improvements.

The upstairs dining room has received a facelift in the form of a new bar, a fresh coat of paint, new furnishings and light fittings.

The space opens to sweeping vistas of the coral sea, and diners can enjoy the fresh, light and bright feel of the room as they feast on some of the region's freshest seafood and salads, as well as melt-in-your mouth pastas, risottos and pizzas.

Mrs Heatley said there would be a focus on using local, seasonal produce and diners could expect to see rotating specials in future.

The epitome of opulence comes in the form of a seafood platter, and all four owners agree that this is the dish to order when wanting to impress out-of-town friends. Mouth-watering scallops, bugs, prawns and oysters, accompanied by a chilli napoli sauce with a side of crusty bread.

The venue is now hosting live music most days of the week, and can also cater for functions of up to 80 people.

Mr Shaheen said the possibility of the venue running brunches was also on the horizon.

The pride taken by the chefs in the preparation of the food is one of Mrs Heatley's favourite aspects.

"Every time I walk into the kitchen, I see a sign that says, 'cooked with love,' and it's just lovely to see people who love their work," she said.


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