In the hearts of Crace locals, humble café restaurant The District is already a winner. But, to Canberrans hailing from across the territory, it’s also clear that the much-loved suburban gem offers a dining experience like no other, so much that it has been awarded Best Café Restaurant at the ACT AHA Hospitality Awards three years in a row – that’s every year since it opened its doors in 2014!
So, why is The District so successful? We caught up with the man behind the venue, Gerry Sanfrancesco, to find out.
“I honestly think that it’s the atmosphere that sets us apart from other venues. Every time I walk into The District everyone is smiling and having a great time, and on the way out everyone waves good bye – it’s really pleasant,” Gerry says.
With more than 30 years of industry experience under his belt, Gerry has centered The District around its residing Crace community and the lifestyle that the area promotes.
“I started in the takeaway business with the establishment of Chicken Gourmet, opening my first in 1981. From there we expanded and opened a number of locations around the area. Between the ’80s and now, I have seen the local market change and Canberrans now prefer a more up-market dining experience,” explains Gerry.
“I set out to achieve a casual dining experience with The District, a relaxed place where people can come to have a drink and order at the bar whenever they want, there is no rush to do anything – it’s all up to the dinner.”
Gerry wants to make going out to eat and drink a relaxing, positive experience for his customers. As a result, The District has welcomed locals coming back time and time again.
“My motto since day one has been that you’ve always got to listen to your customers. They are always right and you always need to go above and beyond to make them happy,” he adds.
“It doesn’t matter how many years of experience you have, if your customers don’t like what you’re doing, you are going to have to change – that’s just the way it is.
“The personality of your staff is also a big thing; we pride ourselves on treating customers like they are our friends. We try to remember everyone’s names and it’s about always being friendly, respectful and approachable – it really makes a difference.”
So whether you’re a Gungahlin local or are on the search for a new place to catch up with friends and family over a great meal, pop in and say hello to Gerry and the team at The District.