Burleigh Fishmongers owners cash in their chips

Burleigh Fishmongers owners Lee and Geoff Smith are retiring and selling their Tallebudgera Valley home.
After nearly 30 years cooking up the catch of the day for loyal locals and hungry holidaymakers, Burleigh Fishmongers owners Lee and Geoff Smith have honed the art of the perfect fish and chips.
“It’s the basics,” Lee said.
“You use fantastic oil and you have a good system in place, so that the product comes out exactly the same every time.”
The couple has used this simple strategy to build a successful business with an annual turnover of more than $2 million, holding its own as a Gold Coast institution while Burleigh Heads evolved into the cosmopolitan dining hub of today.
The shop has traded since 1948
“My husband and I travelled to England once and we saw a fish and chips shop that had been there for 400 years. We thought, wow. How wonderful would that be if this could always be ours,” Lee said.
Lee and Geoff had surf wear and jeans stores in South Australia before moving to Queensland in the early 1990s, when they took over the lease for the fish shop which had already been in business since 1948.
In 1998, they bought the building, named Hardy Place and comprising 5 strata-titled units, and expanded the shop to include a dining area.
The Smith’s house at Tallebudgera Valley is for sale
Now aged in their early 70s, the couple are hanging up their aprons and passing on the family business to their eldest son, Jason Smith, 53.
“As you get older you realise you have to step back and let the new generation come through, but you hope the pride in keeping Burleigh Heads a place people still love will stay,” Lee said.
“Time forces change. It’s like a tide you can never stop. Like the tide coming in, you can never stop times changing.”
But at Fishmongers, the catch of the day is in good hands, with Jason and his twin brothers, Jamie and Sam, 50, already having clocked up many years working in the James St shop.
Jamie went on to sell surfboards, while Sam runs The Fruit Shop juice bar next door.
Chalet-style architecture and plenty of character
The property is ideal for horse lovers
Lee and Geoff are selling their acreage property in semi-rural Tallebudgera Valley, to spend their golden years in a villa by the Tweed River.
Their home of more than 20 years on Tallebudgera Creek Rd is listed with Black and Young and PRD Real Estate, with offers of more than $2.6m sought.
Known as Twin Ponds, it is set over 1.6ha of lush grounds with a grass round yard, fenced paddocks and stables – Lee loves her ponies – as well as an orchard, veggie patch and two spring-fed dams.
The four-bedroom, two-bathroom chalet-style home is rich with warmth and charm, featuring high raked ceilings, exposed rafters and brickwork and timber floors.
The country-style kitchen has a butler’s pantry
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There’s a formal lounge and dining zone as well as a sunken lounge with gallery windows capturing breathtaking valley views, and a modern country-style kitchen with a butler’s pantry.
A separate two-bedroom, one-bathroom cottage provides accommodation for extended family and visitors.
Lee said the hinterland haven provided welcome respite at the end of a long working day.
“It’s just a most beautiful property. It only takes me 5 minutes to get back from Burleigh, where you are so busy talking to people and everyone in the street knows you.
“It’s fantastic, but you realise when you come home you need that peace.
Hinterland haven but still close to Burleigh
“I’ve counted 35 different species of native birds and we have koalas here too. This will be a lovely family home for someone.”
The Smiths are ready to downsize to a quieter pace of life, but they won’t be giving up on one of life’s simple pleasures, which has also allowed them to build a prosperous life for their family through the years.
“We’ll be fishing every day,” Lee said.

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