(L-R) Mungo Coats, Shanti McIvor-Coats, Lester Skorka and Callum Coats at a Boolarong Hotel reunion. Mungo and Callum are the sons of the original owner of the Boolarong Hotel, Betsan Coats. Shanti and Lester are her grandchildren.
(L-R) Mungo Coats, Shanti McIvor-Coats, Lester Skorka and Callum Coats at a Boolarong Hotel reunion. Mungo and Callum are the sons of the original owner of the Boolarong Hotel, Betsan Coats. Shanti and Lester are her grandchildren. Brett Wortman

Boolarong favourite haunt for Sean Connery and wife

FAMILY, friends and staff who experienced the much-loved Boolarong cafe and restaurant in its 1950s heyday have returned to the same spot to commemorate what would be the 100th birthday of its late founder, their relative and friend Betts-Ann Coats.

The Boolarong opened as a small drive-in restaurant just before Christmas 1957 on the site of the current Grand Palais Beachside Resort, Alexandra Headland.

It developed into a key dining and entertainment venue on the Sunshine Coast, even attracting then James Bond actor Sean Connery and his wife Diane Cilento as regular patrons.

"It was the place to be on the Sunshine Coast," said Shanti McIvor-Coats, Mrs Coats' granddaughter.

"She wanted people to come from the beach with sand on their feet and in their swimmers and come and sit down and have a meal.

"It was a cafe and then developed and evolved over the years; friends got married there, people had 21sts, receptions there - it was the place to go for all the events in life. Sean Connery and Diane Cilento had a house on The Spit and would come and dine at the Boolarong."

Under the management of Mrs Coats, the Boolarong expanded rapidly, having two accommodation floors added in the early 1960s, and then seven more units, a penthouse and a pool in the late 1960s. The family sold the popular venue in 1971.

About 40 people attended a commemoration of Mrs Coats' life last night, at a dinner at Thai Street restaurant, which is today located on the same site as the then Boolarong.

"She had a stroke the same day Lady Di died and she hung in there and passed away the same day as Mother Theresa died," Ms McIvor-Coats said of her respected grandmother.

Her 100th birthday would have been tomorrow, July 15.

"It was a drive-through. People would hang a tray on the outside of the car and have a meal out in the car park," Ms McIvor-Coats said. "Then it became a restaurant and she built the extra storey for accommodation.

"It was a well-known place; it was the place to go back in the day."



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