Happy to sing the blues

Michael and Gloria Picton at their new purchase, the Macquarie Street building where they plan to open a restaurant and bar. Photo: BELINDA SOOLE
Michael and Gloria Picton at their new purchase, the Macquarie Street building where they plan to open a restaurant and bar. Photo: BELINDA SOOLE

A COUPLE inspired by the blues scene of Chicago have found their dream venue for a new enterprise in one of Dubbo's most significant heritage buildings.

Michael and Gloria Picton plan to transform a downtown two-storey Victorian property into a restaurant abuzz with music and culture.

In 232 Macquarie Street they found not just 700 square metres of prime real estate but also a place rich in historical and sentimental value.

The present building was completed in 1876 and opened as the Bank of New South Wales, but it appeared in Mr Picton's childhood memory as a musical venue.

The couple settled on the property recently for an undisclosed price and announced their plans, saying they had development approval from Dubbo City Council.

The new project for the Pictons, who operated a successful business at Dubbo with brother Les for 20 years, was no spur-of-the-moment decision.

The restaurant idea was in the making for about 10 years, they said.

Then earlier this year, they made a trip to New Orleans, Memphis, and then Chicago, which was a turning point.

While in the US Midwest city they saw American blues guitarist and singer Buddy Guy, who has his own blues bar.

"It was an inspiration talking to him," Mr Picton said.

"Instead of talking about it, we decided to do it."

Back in Dubbo the couple looked for suitable buildings, and there was one they had long-admired.

The 136-year-old former bank building, regarded as one of Dubbo's most important links to the 19th Century with its "Classical and Italianate influences" held a number of attractions, not least of which was a "gorgeous old vault".

It was well known to many as Dubbo's museum until 2001, and an agent described it as "arguably Dubbo's most prominent commercial building" when it was listed on the market in 2002.

It means something else to Mr Picton, a musician.

"I remember when I was a kid a local band, Ides of Man, playing up there on the upstairs verandah," Mr Picton said.

"I always thought it was a pretty cool thing."

The first step will be to install a commercial kitchen and amenities after the lease on the building expires in March.

The couple intends to live upstairs, and anticipated launching the restaurant and bar on the ground floor in 12 months' time.

They said they planned to open at breakfast, lunch and evenings from about 7am and have live music two to three nights a week.

"We'll try to have live and local as well as some up and coming acts from away," Mr Picton said.

"We want to create a little bit of a vibe.

"I think it will add to what's down this end of town, there are already great restaurants here, and people are always looking for choices."



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