Thankyou, Reenie

Thankyou, Reenie

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Reenie has loved operating Reenie’s Kitchen in Serpentine, but said it was time for a change.

There was a massive outpouring of support from the Serpentine community last week before a treasured local hang-out closed its doors for the very last time.

Reenie’s Kitchen served its last ever pizza on Friday, to the dismay of food lovers near and far.

Carinna Nicholls – better known as Reenie to most – has been a Serpentine local for 35 years and has been feeding the community and surrounds in different roles for around three decades.

“I love it – cooking just comes second nature to me. It’s my outlet,” she said.

She opened her famed kitchen just over two years ago.

In that short time, it grew a cult following of foodies looking to devour one of her renowned Big Mouth burgers – which always came with a side of good old-fashioned service and a genuine smile.

But for Reenie, and many Serpentine locals, it was more than just a place to get a top-notch feed.

It was a community hub, a vital service to support elderly community members, and a place where youngsters took their first tentative steps in the workforce.

“Thank you from the bottom of my heart for everything you have done for Kayla – not just for her employment and being an amazing boss, but also for being someone she could always talk to and who provided guidance during her tough times,” Lisa Kelly said.

Reenie is proud to have given so many nervous young locals a supportive start.

“This was always more than just a job for me. I wanted this to be a safe space – that’s why I let people write positive messages up there [on the awning],” she said.

 

“I’ve been through a lot and a part of my healing process is making someone else feel better about themselves, and encouraging them to believe in themselves.”

She said she’s been rewarded by staff who always went the extra yards.

“A shout out to Kayla Scott, Brodie Kelly, and Talyn Ball who were amazing to work with,” she said.

“And a special thankyou to my right hand, Kerry Grigo, who always had my back.”

The business has been for sale since June last year, but there have been no takers. Reenies, it seems, are few and far between.

When she announced her intention to close the shop a couple of weeks ago, it sent shockwaves through the community.

“There have been some customers in tears,” Reenie said.

“You don’t realise the impact you have on people when you give them the time of day.

“I know a lot of the community is going to be disappointed. And I’m sorry it didn’t turn out. I would have liked to have been here for years.”

But running such a well-loved business leaves little room for anything else.

“No one wants to work on weekends,” she said. “And I want to be there for my family more.

“I’ve lived and breathed this for two years, and I don’t like feeling stuck in one place.”

Reenie said she’s interested in pursuing a career in the mental health sector as a support worker.

Leila Terriaca said although she’s sad the community will be losing an institution like Reenie’s Kitchen, she is excited for her friend’s next steps.

“She’s the most loyal and hardworking person I know – she’s always given 110 percent and I’m sure she’ll be putting in 110 percent into whatever comes next,” she said.

“I couldn’t think of a more perfect person to be a support worker – she’s got such a kind and caring heart.

“It’ll be a loss for the town – we don’t have anything else like Reenie’s Kitchen here. And the community has really embraced and enjoyed having her here.

“But I’ll be waiting in the wings to support her in whatever she chooses to do next.”

Messages of love have been coming through thick and fast from customers and community members.

“She’s great and her staff are great – anyone you talk to will say that,” regular customer Peter Lloyd said.

“And the food was consistently good – it kept me coming back.

“She had a big following and I’m sure everybody will miss her greatly.”

Reenie said she is drawn to help others as part of her own healing journey – a trait that will help her if she becomes a support worker.

“Thank you so much for your never-ending support and contributions to the Serpentine community. You and your family took a huge chance to provide an alternative source of take away food for our small town. My family will certainly miss you, but enjoy your rest and have fun with your future endeavours,” Digger Kelly said.

In true fashion, Reenie will spend her first week of freedom cooking up some meals to drop off to elderly locals who might struggle with the transition.

“And I’m going to put out my recipes on my Reenie’s Kitchen page – it’s the least I can do,” she said.

“I really appreciate my customers and their loyalty. A big thank you for supporting local.”