11 August 2023

G'day Busters Tavern, so long Papi's (sort of)

| Dione David
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Buster's Tavern is the latest venture of Illawarra food and beverage business partners Barry Pearson and Andrew Juskiw

Buster’s Tavern is the latest venture of Illawarra food and beverage business partners Barry Pearson and Andrew Juskiw. Photo: Acacia Reynolds.

It boasted the “second best burgers in the 2515” and was a favourite among the area’s hippest patrons, but the space formerly occupied by Papi’s has outgrown this niche offering.

In its place tomorrow (Saturday 5 August), Thirroul will be introduced to the newest member of its food and beverage offering – Buster’s Tavern.

Chef and co-owner Barry Pearson has scraped back the gritty, underground vibes to reveal a fresh and inviting interior designed to cater to a wider audience, while keeping all the best bits of Papi’s (read: the burgers, the drinks and the fun).

READ ALSO Papi’s owners crack open the vault to bring ‘fun fine dining’ to Thirroul village

Buster’s Tavern is the latest venture of business partners Barry Pearson and Andrew Juskiw, who aside from Papi’s, own Bar Padres in Kiama and, along with Barry’s partner Amy Boatwright, Mexican fine-dining restaurant Boveda in Thirroul Village.

In terms of both aesthetics and food, Barry says, “Think Merivale-meets-pub”.

“In other words, expect Australian pub classics but modernised,” he says.

“People should walk past and think, ‘Yeah, that looks like a small pub’, but when you look at the food menu, it’s something you might expect at a more upscale, modern coastal pub.”

Part of the menu will include dishes designed for sharing such as crumbed and deep-fried cheese and meatballs.

Mains will include all the pub classics such as schnitzels, chicken parmesan and crispy-skinned fish but with unexpected twists here and there, like the crumbed steak.

There will be a small kids menu and importantly, kids aged 10 and under eat free with any purchase of an adult meal.

“We really want to send the message that this is an inclusive space for families, but we also want to take care of the very loyal customer base we had at Papi’s,” Barry says.

READ ALSO Wollongong’s culinary maestro Brooke Silk has mastered the art of in-home dining

To that end, there’s a pool room out back and Papi’s beloved burgers will still be available online as takeaway.

“At its heart it won’t be that different to Papi’s in terms of the service, and we’ll still have our great burgers, and an extensive range of amazing beers and cocktails,” Barry says.

“But the whole space will be more inviting for everyone.”

From Saturday 5 August, Busters Tavern is open Wednesdays to Thursdays for dinner and Fridays to Sundays for lunch and dinner. For more information, visit Buster’s Tavern at 372-374 Lawrence Hargrave Drive, Thirroul.

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