A humble start, Quamby Cafe 1914.
Attracting visitors from far and wide, 1922.
It is hard to believe that this buzzing 400 seat family restaurant started out as a modest refreshment stop for travellers. Called the Quamby and built in 1914, the café operated for 44 years and is remembered fondly for its fresh strawberries and cream sold at just 6d. per dish.
In 1958 the Quamby was sold to Willi and Karin Koeppen. Shortly after they moved in, Karin heard the sound of a cuckoo calling in the darkness. She woke her husband and said “We will call the café The Cuckoo”. What Karin did not realise at the time is that the word “cuckoo” can also mean a bit crazy. Although she had some reservations about this in the early days, the quirky and highly amusing Bavarian style floorshow has warmed hearts from all over the world in the unique “Cuckoo” way.
Cuckoo Restaurant in the 1960’s.
Cuckoo Restaurant circa 1970.
In Germany, during the 1950’s, there was a surge in the popularity of the Smorgasbord Restaurant. Having been raised in Germany, co-founders Karin and Willi Koeppen, sought to bring the experience of a German Smorgasbord to their new home in Australia.
Karin and her husband Willi – who had grown up in Germany as a chef – opened the doors to The Cuckoo Restaurant in 1958 as Australia’s first ever smorgasbord.
The Cuckoo Restaurant has since then flourished under the ownership of Karin Koeppen and the hard work of her family into a sprawling restaurant able to seat up to 400 guests over 3 separate dining spaces.
Willi Koeppen was a pioneer in bringing food to television well before anyone had heard of MasterChef. At the time Executive Chef at Melbourne’s Chevron Hotel, his first foray into the media world was with radio station 3XY, where he hosted a popular German show.
In 1957, Koeppen hosted what was Australia’s first TV cooking program, The Chef Presents. The five-minute program, expanding to a 15 minute slot by 1959 at Melbourne’s HSV7, screened every Monday night leading into the evening news bulletin.
Situated just down from the Main Street of the beautiful township of Olinda in the Dandenong Ranges, The Cuckoo Restaurant is a beautiful building styled after a traditional Bavarian Chalet. With staff dressed in dirndls and lederhosen to match the classic feeling.
The inside is decorated to match the outside, with an abundance of German furnishings to match. Dark-wood interiors, German novelties on display and available for purchase from our Souvenir Shop, this venue is truly a place out of time.
The Cuckoo Restaurant is able to cater for over 400 guests in three separate dining areas, all with their own band area and dance floor. On street-level we have our Bavarian Room and Eidelweiss Room, which are our main dining areas.
The Eidelweiss Room features a wall of windows with magnificent views out to our surrounding forestry whereas the Bavarian Room is highlighted by a central fireplace with a selection of Bavarian-inspired art.
The Vienna Room, situated downstairs, is specifically designed for wedding receptions and is a delightful room away from the rest of the restaurant’s guests. With beautiful vistas of the garden and forest surrounds the views are the perfect backdrop for wedding photography.
Just off from the Vienna Room is our outdoor Vienna Terrace with open gazebo. This area is available for hire and can be used for wedding ceremonies and small outdoor functions. Surrounded by garden and ornamental trees, the Terrace is private, secluded and a pretty backdrop for photos.
The Cuckoo Restaurant has an off-street parking lot on site than can host up to 200 vehicles at any time. For any of our guests that have mobility issues we do have some disabled parking at street level as well as a drop-off area to the right of our front doors with ramp access to the building.
Our weekend dining sessions are bolstered by the music of our wonderfully talented musicians. Whether it’s tickling the ivories on a piano or boosting the crowd with a tune on the accordion our musicians help to provide the lively atmosphere that The Cuckoo is so well known for.
Currently not available due to COVID situation. Available again soon.
The Bavarian Floor Show is a must see for all curious visitors from all over the globe. Learn to yodel. Link arms with the best of mates and schunkel to the beat. Put your hand up to ring the cow bells and if you’re really lucky you may get a chance to slap dance! A little different every day, it’s always a highlight.
The Cuckoo prides ourselves on being a family-friendly restaurant and children are very welcome. We have plenty to keep them entertained, from the entertainment where some lucky guests get to shake one of the cow bells in the interactive floor show on weekends to our Children’s activity packs if they need a little something to keep them distracted.