When multiple award winning Restaurateur Mark Wilson first saw the enormous canvas photo of the endearing Highlands cow by Tony Sheffield, he knew immediately that it would be the inspiration for his latest café/restaurant. The stunning canvas takes pride of place adorning a wall of The Shaggy Cow on Mittagong’s Main St and has been responsible for establishing the theme of Mark Wilsons ‘The Shaggy Cow’ Cafe. The rustic chic interior of the premises has been completely refurbished with recycled timbers and boasts banquet seating inside and relaxed seating outside.
Mark Wilson knew from an early age that he would spend his lifetime working in the restaurant industry, he grew up with a passion for hospitality. From a young age he had an eye for detail and would always notice how things in the hospitality industry could have been done better, particularly front-of-house.
Mark opened his first café “The Bower” on the waterfront at Manly in 1989. He offered seafood lunches and The Bower quickly became an award winning café. Soon thereafter, Mark was successful in his application for the tender to redevelop the Balmoral beach bathers’ pavilions, he spent over $1.5M redeveloping the baths and opened his next restaurant “The Watermark” at this site in 1992. The one hundred and fifty seat restaurant won many major awards including AMEX and Restaurant Caterers’ Hall of Fame awards. After 15 years of operation Mark sold the restaurant to look after his numerous Ristretto Bars in the Sydney and Melbourne CBD’s. It was at this time that he relocated to the Southern Highlands.
Over the next seven years, Mark continued to travel to Sydney to manage his Ristretto bars. He will tell you that he can name every tree from the Highlands to Sydney. However, fter seven years of travel he decided to sell, and open a Café/Restaurant in the Highlands so that he could bring good service and high quality food, beautifully presented in a nice venue, to the community he was living in.
Amplify staff love The Shaggy Cow; its stylish look, relaxed feel, delicious food and impeccable service, we couldn’t wait to bring you Mark’s story…
Why did you move from Sydney to the Southern Highlands?
I made the move nine years ago because I wanted a different lifestyle for my family, I wanted to buy some land on which to raise my family. I loved the community atmosphere of the Highlands, it has good people and it has great schools for my children. I wanted to bring my children up in more of a community based environment.
For the first seven years whilst I commuted to Sydney, I didn’t get to immerse myself in the community here and that was why I decided to open a Café/Restaurant here in the Highlands. My goal was to bring a stylish food outlet with good service and good food, beautifully presented and delivered consistently, to my home community.
How has the Southern Highlands supported you?
The people of the Southern Highlands have a hunger for good service quality and great food presentation. They want nice venues to go to and well trained staff. They are a niche clientele that like to establish long relationships. I believe the Highlands has huge opportunity for business, however, more people in the Highlands need to invest in their businesses the way they would have in Sydney.
The first twelve months were hard, as is always the case with a new business, however, The Shaggy Cow now has a great following and support from the community.
The Shaggy Cow has also been supported by the community through recognition at the local business awards. The Shaggy Cow was the winner of the Excellence in a Cafe category at the Southern Highlands Business Awards for Excellence.
What are your plans for The Shaggy Cow?
The Shaggy Cow is ever evolving. We started with a great breakfast menu and great coffee. Then late last year we were successful in our application for a liquor licence which added to our lunchtime dining experience.
I am now planning a new night time menu with the plan to start opening for dinner two nights a week in the coming months. I also have plans to develop the outdoor area into a Melbournesque dining area.
The Shaggy Cow also caters for large corporate accounts including QANTAS and Vogue as well as private and family functions.
You can follow The Shaggy Cow on their Facebook page.