The iconic chain, Darby’s Pies, is closing its doors permanently after forty years of serving hot pies and other pastries to the people of Newcastle. The chain of scattered stores along the Hunter and Central coast has closed 27 shops and 120 ex-employees are now jobless.
The owner, Victor De Vries, reported the pie store was forced to close to due to $3 million in debt. In March Darby’s Pies was placed in voluntary administration while efforts were made to try and save the business, but unfortunately things did not pick up.
The shop was famous for its cheap pies, only a $1 back in their heyday, sadly though it may have been those famous prices that was its undoing. Even as the price increased to $3 for a plain pie it still wasn’t enough to combat the increased cost of running a business. Mr De Vries blamed the rise in costs like wages and bills that got more expensive each year.
It’s a bittersweet time to be living in Newcastle right now. On one hand we’ve seen more development over the past of couple of years than the city had seen in decades, but as another iconic business of Newcastle bites the dust many Novocastrians are left pining for the past.
Personally, the closure of Darby’s has emotionally affected me more than most. While some may see it as a simple chain of pie stores, when I look at that iconic Darby’s Pies logo, a moustached man in his white uniform against a bright red background, it brings me a lot of joy and memories. When my mother was pregnant with my little brother she craved those pies all day every day, and when he was born she named him Darby. Though for years she vehemently denied the connection and claimed to have named him after Hugh Munroe, a racehorse trainer who was known as ‘Demon Darby’, but no one believed her because she didn’t care for horse-racing and really loved pies.
Reflecting back, the glory days of Darby’s Pies was long behind it. For a while the quality had been struggling and the popularity declining. As the years wore on the chain of stores seemed to be entirely habituated by tradies in fluorescent vests and kids after school who were willing to fork out some shrapnel. Although I had frequented the shop a lot as a child, I struggle to remember the last time I went as an adult, and the recent memories I do have are disappointing. Despite the nostalgia, we should all admit that the closure of Darby’s, while maybe not a joyous step for Newcastle, was a necessary one. As the city continues to change I understand the locals who fear the price of progress, but as we move into a new era we must acknowledge that while it’s sad that not every icon of Newcastle’s past can come with us, we’re are trying to build a better and more successful city for the future.
Editor Note: Mirage is upset when any Novocastrian business closes and our thoughts go out to all of the people who have lost jobs and their families. This should serve as a reminder to support local businesses when we can.
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