3 August 2023

Papi's owners crack open the vault to bring 'fun fine dining' to Thirroul village

| Dione David
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Boveda co-owners Andrew Juskiw, Amy Boatwright and Barry Pearson at the front of the restaurant

(Left to right) co-owners Andrew Juskiw, Amy Boatwright and Barry Pearson are transforming the restaurant formerly known as Para. Photo: Dione David.

Amy Boatwright is forthcoming as she surveys the deep-green walls of the Thirroul restaurant formerly known as Para.

“I hate them with every bone in my body,” she laughs.

“This whole space makes me feel like I need to be quiet.”

It’s the antithesis of the vibe she wants for the restaurant that will take over the space in the coming weeks.

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Billed as “fun fine dining”, Boveda will combine her partner Barry Pearson’s background as a fine-dining chef with Amy’s skill for all things small business and childhood love of Mexican food.

“I grew up in the Sutherland Shire and there was this Mexican restaurant in Gymea. We went there almost every Friday from when I was born until we moved when I was 10,” she says.

“All our family and friends would take up a big long table. The food was flavourful and authentic. There were mariachi bands and so much happening. Every time we went it was so much fun.

“It’s funny, I could not tell you the name of it, but I remember how it made me feel. It gave you that beautiful sense of family and flavour and just a really good time.”

Amy Boatwright inside Boveda before it is renovated

The days are numbered for the deep green walls inside Boveda, Amy’s first foray into hospitality business ownership. Photo: Dione David.

The name Boveda is Spanish for “vault” – a hat tip to the history of that space, which was once the Commonwealth Bank, before it became the post office.

It later became Postman’s Quarter before being rebranded to Para, all the while retaining a thick triple-reinforced steel wall that used to be the bank vault.

“We couldn’t take that out if we wanted to. But we actually love the history and we thought – let’s lean into that.”

While the main dining space will train its focus on producing high-quality food – everything from gourmet tacos and guacamole to lobster dishes and great cocktails – this front space will house the DJ decks, dance space and bar area with high tables and a smaller bar menu.

“When we’re dusting up around 9 pm in the dining room, we’ll have DJs and it’ll turn into more of a fun vibe,” Amy says.

“There are lights down the driveway. They are pretty busted but that space is really cool. We’re hoping to convert to outdoor seating with lighting and umbrellas for summer and heaters for winter.

“I also hope to collaborate with Anita’s Theatre to offer a pre-show package.”

Wall in Boveda restaurant

Boveda will have a coastal Mexican aesthetic. Photo: Dione David.

Amy, who has a background in event and small-business management, has big plans for the space to embrace a coastal Mexican aesthetic.

The offending dark-green walls will be painted a soft white and complemented by cacti and brass finishings.

But perhaps more important are the changes aimed at making the restaurant more open and welcoming.

“It’s currently very closed and intimidating from the front,” Amy says.

“It’s only when we found out about this opportunity that we realised it was a restaurant right in the heart of the village. How did we not know what was here?”

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The doors will be open and music will pour out to welcome people in. A large brass sign will advertise what’s happening. And pending council approval, outdoor seating will add to the vibe.

As the guys behind Papi’s in Thirroul and Bar Padres in Kiama, Amy’s co-owners Barry and Andrew Juskiw have a solid track record of tapping into the local market.

“I love what they’ve created at Papi’s – it’s this super-fun dive bar slash burger joint,” Amy says.

“I love the creativity and vibrance it brings to that corner that has struck a chord with the young crowd.”

Boveda will be Amy’s first foray into hospitality business ownership, and while it’s moving in a seemingly different direction from Papi’s entirely, she says the spirit of the business is much the same.

“It’s about creating spaces that bring people together in our beautiful part of the world.”

Boveda is expected to open in early to mid-April.

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