Iconic takeaway The Big Red Hen closed after 35 years

Iconic takeaway The Big Red Hen closed after 35 years ICONIC SHOP CLOSES: Sisters Angela Ginis (left) and Helen Waller have closed their The Big Red Hen business after 25 years. Picture: Geoff Jones
Nanjing Night Net

Richmond resident Greg Sheppeard has been eating at The Big Red Hen for 30 years.

Richmond resident Greg Sheppeard has been eating at The Big Red Hen for 30 years.

A 1982 newspaper clipping from Macquarie Towns Review when Jim and Cathy Bacasetas originally opened The Big Red Hen.

Helen Waller (left) and Angela Ginis on their final day of trading.

‘George’ the iconic hen statue will have a new home in the sisters’ Lennox Street residence.

The shopfront is now for lease.

Farewell scrumptious chicken, chips and gravy.

The team’s announcement on The Big Red Hen Facebook page attracted over 400 comments from customers who were sorry to see them go.

Picture: Facebook

Picture: Facebook

Picture: Facebook

TweetFacebookand dinner here. I’m just devastated,” says Richmond resident, Greg Sheppeard.

He’s standing on Windsor Street, Richmond, outside The Big Red Hen, and today is the store’s final day of business.

“Everyone’s been talking about it, up at the Marketplace, everywhere. Twenty five years of coming to the one shop – you weren’t just a customer, you became family,” he says.

Mr Sheppeard, 50, is just one of likely thousands of current and ex-Hawkesbury residents who are sorry to see their beloved local takeaway close its doors.

Two of these residents, who happen to be walking past the store, stop and chat to Mr Sheppeard – it seems they were regulars, too.

“My husband and I were so upset when we heard the news,” says a lady. Like Mr Sheppeard, she has been eating at the establishment for decades.

“Are we all here to commiserate the loss of The Big Red Hen?” says a man. Clearly, that’s what’s happening.

On Facebook, The Big Red Hen page has almost 1300 likes, and the closure announcement posted a few days ago already has over 400 comments.

Some asked for their gravy recipe, and others asked for the name of their chicken croquettes supplier. Even their fruit salad and yoghurt was mentioned as a firm favourite.

Many of the comments shared personal stories about coming into The Big Red Hen, through school and while working. Some were simply passing through the neighbourhood, but it tasted so good that they remembered it, they said.

For Mr Sheappard, The Big Red Hen’s closure is the loss of an institution, and he mentions numerous times how devastated he is.

“I actually cried when I heard the news. So many friendships were made in here,” he says.

Over the past quarter-of-a-century, Mr Sheppeard has sampled the entire menu – many times over. The dish that originally got him hooked, however, was the hot chips and gravy. With chicken salt, of course.

“Lately it’s been fish and chips, but it’s also been schnitzel wraps. It’s been hamburgers. Ohhh and the creamy pasta!” he says.

“You could walk in and they knew exactly what you wanted. They were really on the ball. Nothing compares to this shop, mate. Trust me, it’s the best.”

Richmond resident Greg Sheppeard has been eating at The Big Red Hen for 30 years.

Family businessThe heroes behind all the hype – and arguably the best hot-chip chefs in the Hawkesbury – are sisters and business partners, Angela Ginis and Helen Waller.

Richmond born and bred, the sisters shut the doors on 25 years of memories when they closed The Big Red Hen for the final time.

“It wasn’t an easy decision to make and it wasn’t taken lightly. It’s been very emotional,” Ms Ginis told the Gazette.

“People are devastated. The business has taken on its own entity – it’s like somebody’s died.”

The duo attempted to find a buyer for The Big Red Hen, but none came forward. Their family owns the building, and they are now looking for a lessee for the shopfront – though they are still hoping a white knight will snap-up the business and keep its legacy alive.

“It’s sad no one bought it so The Big Red Hen could carry on for the community,” said Ms Ginis.

Their father, Steve Ginis, originally purchased the shop as a fruit shop in the 1970s. He had arrived in Richmond in 1956 and purchased a home on Lennox Street – which the family still owns.

In 1982, a ‘specialist bbq chicken shop’ opened up the road from Mr Ginis’s fruit shop, under the ownership of husband and wife team, Jim and Cathy Bacasetas. The duo went on to sell the business and it changed hands a couple of times before Mr Ginis acquired it in 1992 and moved it to its current premises.

By this time, Mr Sheppeard had already begun to get ‘hooked’ on The Big Red Hen’s tasty flavours, and he soon began to put in daily appearances at the new location.

The team’s announcement on The Big Red Hen Facebook page attracted over 400 comments from customers who were sorry to see them go.

Community storeWhen Mr Ginis passed away approximately 10 years ago, Ms Ginis and Ms Waller took over the shop’s reigns. His daughters had already been working there for around 15 years, and they knew the family business like the backs of their hands.

“It’s time to do something new now,” said Ms Ginis. She also owns Hawkesbury Natural Therapies Centre, and is studying to become a naturopath.

“We’re really open to whatever’s out there. Life is an adventure! But we’ll still be around the area.”

The sisters and business partners wanted to thank their staff, customers, and suppliers.

“A huge ‘thank you’ to all the staff over the years. They were all dedicated, honest and hardworking, and we would not have been successful without them,” said Ms Ginis.

“We had staff who started when they were 14 – we really enjoyed giving kids their first job, watching them growing up, and then coming into the shop with their own families.

“A huge thank you to our customers, for their dedication and loyalty. And to all our suppliers – we would not have had our success without them.

“We are only two people, and it takes a community to help run a store.”

The iconic hen statue that has resided inside the store for the past 20-odd years – the sisters call the statue ‘George’ – will now go home to live with their family.

Helen Waller (left) and Angela Ginis on their final day of trading.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.