End of an era for Anabel’s
By Daisy Baker
12 December, 2018
LONG-TIME owners of Anabel’s of Scottsdale, Andrea and Sean Blake, who turned the historical family home into a successful restaurant and accommodation service, have sold the property.
The National Trust-listed home and garden and was built by Mrs Blake’s grandparents, the Dinhams, at the turn of the century when they got engaged.
George Melvin Dinham and his wife Vera Clarice, better known as Clarissa, raised their three children in the house.
Mrs Blake said her grandfather was considered to have “keen business acumen”, with several shops in Scottsdale, including a produce store, a grocery and drapery store in King Street, and a hardware store.
“He virtually kept the whole town in groceries – he had groceries downstairs and women’s clothing upstairs,” she said.
“However after the war when the Depression came, he went into receivership as he had lots of unpaid accounts from people around town at his various stores.
“Then my grandmother ended up with no money to live on so she decided to rent out two or three of the rooms to school teachers and that’s how she kept going.”
Mr Blake moved to Tasmania in the mid 1960s, coming to Scottsdale in 1966.
“My first memory [of Anabel’s] was when I came here looking for accommodation, and that was when Andrea’s grandmother had it, after hearing she had rooms up for rent,” Mr Blake said.
“[Clarissa] was a real lady – she would always get dressed up to go up the street and do her shopping with her basket.”
Years later when Mrs Dinham passed away, the property was left to Mrs Blake and her mother June.
Neither of them wanted to live there, but Mr and Mrs Blake felt they had a duty to preserve it as a part of local history.
“We decided we had to do something with it and I suggested an a la carte restaurant and function centre, as there wasn't anything like that here at the time,” he said.
“It was a huge commitment financially, physically and mentally.
“We both had full time jobs, and had three women’s clothing stores, Andrea’s Boutique in Scottsdale, Bridport and St Helens, so we needed it to be self-sustaining.”
The Blakes took over in 1981, and they named it Clarissa’s in memory of Mrs Blake’s grandmother.
The premises needed substantial renovations and maintenance, which were done over six months by the late Scott Dobson.
Mrs Blake said after advertising in the Sydney Morning Herald, they attracted a number of applications for someone to run Clarissa’s, among them a German and Dutch couple that moved to Tasmania and managed the business for five years.
When the managers departed the business, it was renamed Anabel’s after Sean and Andrea’s daughter.
The restaurant was frequented by Simplot employees who suggested the Blakes build accommodation, as they wanted not only first-class dining but also somewhere to stay.
“So we built on accommodation in early 90s and the units were very successful and were booked out most of the time from when they opened,” Mrs Blake said.
“Both the accommodation and restaurant have been really successful and we are very fortunate to have had many great staff, some of them with us for most of our time.
“We’ve both got to the age where we need a rest so decided to sell the business, and while we didn’t have anyone in our family who really wanted to take it on so we’re really happy that Nadine and Stephen, a couple who love gardens and old houses have bought it and will be able to continue it for years to come.”
She said they have made some fond memories over the years and have been part of many people’s special occasions.
“Over the years we helped several people propose, hiding rings under napkins,” Mrs Blake said.
“We had a couple come and visit recently who got engaged at Anabel’s and came back to celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary, which was really lovely.”
Reflecting on almost 40 years in business, Mr Blake said: “We met a lot of interesting people and had good times but it was also lots of hard work.”
The couple are planning a trip to Paris in 2019, to visit their son Patrick who works in the embassy.