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Save Gaby's: campaign to find iconic eatery a new home


Phillip Thomson and Ben Westcott

Gabriel Wilk at Gaby's.

Gabriel Wilk at Gaby's. Photo: Rohan Thomson

The National Capital Authority has offered to act as a broker to find another location for the longstanding Barton burger joint Gaby's Takeaway.

About 2000 people have signed a petition to save Gaby's as it mounts a Brodburger-style campaign to save its trading bacon after the authority advised it would not renew the eatery's temporary trading permit in October.

The old Brodburger van back in 2009, before it set up its permanent spot in Kingston.

The old Brodburger van back in 2009, before it set up its permanent spot in Kingston. Photo: Richard Briggs

It comes as the owners of Brodburger have come out swinging in defence of Gaby's saying Canberra needs less bureaucracy blocking non-traditional eating establishments.

"If there's anything we can do to help, we will – I understand completely what they're going through," said Brodburger owner Joelle Brodbeck.

"It's pretty daunting but they should stay positive.

"Their location at the moment is ideal, like ours was, but it's hard to sit and fight because (the governing powers) are pretty stubborn.

"Canberra needs more caravans and quirky places to eat."

Brodburger now trades from the Canberra Glassworks after its famous red caravan was given its marching orders out of Bowen Park by the authority.

The ACT Government quelled community indignation by helping to strike a deal to have Brodburger set up in the Glassworks.

Brodburger is still unable to get a hawker's licence for its caravan and is looking for private land to park the van.

A public forum hosted by the authority on Thursday night heard Malcolm Snow, the authority's new chief executive, say it would be good if his organisation could help find a way to keep Gaby's in the general area.

Previously in the evening, other authority staff said Gaby's had been told consistently it was on a temporary permit, that there was no guarantee of the permit being renewed and that Gaby's had been given chances to move, but had not taken the opportunities.

The NCA has said the decision not to renew the trading permit had nothing to do with the introduction of paid parking, but

it confirmed work was about to start on an upgraded access road and car park in the area near Gaby's.

Gaby's owners, Gabriel and Monica Wilk, now aged in their early 50s, moved to the area from Argentina so Gabriel could play soccer for a club in Queanbeyan.

Instead of returning home after two years they instead set up the takeaway and became Australian citizens. The shop sells nachos, chicken schnitzels, hamburgers and salads and has fed the full gamut of the bureaucracy, from graduate public servants to department heads.


  • Leave it alone NCA, banned the boats on the lake, wound up the V8's in league with Ted Quinlan, tried on Brodburgers but lost, the ACT Green Labor mob are bad enough but the NCA is as usefull as a hip pocket on a jock strap and should be wound out of existence.

    Date and time
    April 04, 2014, 1:49PM
    • HOW does the NCA think that banning fun quirky eateries is a good thing? Canberra has long been criticised for being sterile and overgoverned. Institutions like Gabys and the little red Brodburger caravan bring humanity to Canberra's boring public spaces. It's the same small mindedness as the authorities banning the hovercraft from going on the lake. More boats, more food trucks and more spontanaeity can only make Canberra a more vibrant and enticing place to live.

      Date and time
      April 04, 2014, 2:01PM
      • It's the quirky little things like this eatery that give our Canberra some soul. People love it and use it and it is someone's livelihood. In a town of bureaucrats these bureaucrats are the worst. They allow the building of cold and brutal monstrosities yet hate the warmth and friendliness of a little food van. Skewed priorities or what?

        Date and time
        April 05, 2014, 11:17AM
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