Mum Rosie Anderson is a powerhouse of a mother! She has raised 9 children, run various businesses, been a fitness instructor and is a licensed real estate agent. Her son, Justin, at only 22 has already lived a full life. With a fashion label, international travel under his belt and a well established career in hospitality, Justin has returned to the Coffs Coast and is part owner of café/bar Old John’s, down on the Jetty Strip.
What brought you and your family to Bello?
I was born in Bellingen, raised on a farm and moved to Sydney for work when I was 16. I returned home several times and settled at Gleniffer to raise my family in my early twenties.
Apart from being a mum of 9, what is your day job?
Whilst raising my family, I ran a Home Based Child Care business and worked in hospitality. I have also worked as a fitness instructor, am a licensed real estate agent and am presently working as a Support Worker for Community Care Options.
What ages are your kids? Where does Justin fit in to the family?
My eldest daughter, Melissa, is 35. Oliver (32), Lewis (30), Jonathan (27), Justin (22) is my youngest son, and Sirene (11) is my youngest daughter.
When Justin was growing up, what did you think he was going to grow up to be? Are you proud of his career now?
Justin was always good for attention and often entertained us, and I often thought he would be a great actor or work in the entertainment industry. I am very proud of his current career/business and all that he’s achieved at Old John’s, a stepping stone … yes … towards bigger and greater adventures.
Old John’s is very vibrant. How does his childhood reflect his current creativity?
Justin is very outgoing and full of the vibrance of youth and searching for all life has to offer. As a child, he was never one to sit back and watch others; he was out there, looking for an opportunity to test his skills and talent and explore his creativity. Old John’s has been a perfect platform for him to do just that, and it’s flair and success is no doubt a reflection of Justin’s creativity and drive.
Surfing is also one of his big passions. Having followed his brothers into the water at 7 years old, he has surfed religiously ever since.
It is a medium for Justin to express himself creatively, a place of inspiration, reflection and solitude.
Tell us a couple of funny stories about Justin …
Justin is very strong willed and doesn’t like to accept ‘no’ for an answer. I remember a period of Justin’s schooling when he was 6, and he was reluctant to go to school. One morning in particular, I decided I would get him on that school bus one way or another. Alas, Juzzy wasn’t going to have a part of it, and ran off stark naked down the hill and hid.
Having so many children running around must have been very special. What are your fondest memories?
Being the youngest of 4 boys, Justin had to grow up quick to get back at his brothers for all the antics played – like being gaffer taped naked to a chair on the verandah. Or, defending himself from attack from his older siblings, while entertaining his fondness in dressing up as the character Robot Barbarian, with football shoulder pads and head gear, along with a home made set of nunchucks.
I have wonderful memories of celebrating birthdays with family and friends and the Christmas excitement of presents and big gatherings with grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. Summer was always my favourite time of year – swimming in the local water holes, or taking the kids to the beach. Winter time … cuddling up and keeping warm while sitting in front of the open fire, cracking macadamia nuts on the hearth, eating oranges, homemade bread and yoghurt.
Do you see a big church wedding for Justin?
I see Justin celebrating his wedding on a picturesque headland setting looking over the ocean, or in a tranquil bush setting alongside a crystal clear creek amongst nature’s elements.
Have you always lived and worked in Bello?
I grew up in Gleniffer and went to school in Bellingen, then CHEC, then moved to Sydney when I finished. I worked down there for a few years, spent some time holidaying in the States and Mexico, then moved back home in 2012.
Old John’s was born sometime after this – a romantic and brilliant idea which saw me sleeping under the stairs in the shop to save on petrol and time whilst we renovated (the Harry Potter room). I’ve since upgraded and now live in an apartment in town full-time.
What do you love about your job?
Apart from soothing my love for good coffee, food and drink, Old John’s is generally a fun place. Socially it’s non stop, you’re meeting lots of visitors, building up relationships with your regulars and people throughout the area. It’s a hoot. Not to mention, it’s rewarding working hard and seeing results and the business grow.
Old John’s has such a young, funky vibe. Where does the inspiration for such a cosmopolitan café/bar derive?
There are definitely good vibes down there. This comes down to a combination of things, from the design, music, lighting etc. A most important factor I’d like to note though, is the staff. We’ve got a rocking little team full of vibrance, youth and enthusiasm. We’re all down there to raise the bar of hospitality in Coffs Harbour and bring a bit more café culture to the area, and this certainly shines through in the feel of the space.
The inspiration comes from all over the place. Great bars and cafés we’ve been to in Sydney, when I was down there, and all over the world (cue Stevo). Steve’s spent a lot of time in London, New York, Barcelona etc. so he was able to bring a lot of culture and ideas into the space. Thankfully, he’s a legend and a design whizz too, so he nailed that area.
Old John’s is basically a platform for all the things that we think are great, and we have set ourselves no boundaries at all for where the business can go. It’s exciting to have something like that.
You’re very young to have such huge success. Tell us a little bit about your career progression?
After school, I had a fashion label in Sydney with my brother, plasidapparel, which kicked off in 2008. We had a flagship store in Manly and were in RAFW (now MBFW) in 2010. This fizzled out in late 2011, but it was great; it gave me a solid business foundation and good experience for me to draw on now. During this period in Sydney, I was working in various bars and sociable environments similar to hospitality. All this helped, and each was valuable for what I’m doing now at Old John’s.
What keeps bringing you back to Coffs Harbour?
Firstly, needless to say, the Mid North Coast is beautiful and like no other place. I would always come back here, and it will always be home. In this case, after my stint in Sydney I wanted to lay low and decide what to do next. After months of golfing and surfing and not working, I was planning on heading back to Sydney to do economics at uni. We then had the opportunity to open Old John’s, and everything kind of worked itself out and I’m back here for good, at this stage. No complaints.
Growing up in a family of 9 siblings, there must’ve been many fun times. Share a couple of your special childhood memories with our readers …
I got my bum gaffer taped one day, which was pretty full on, and I was pretty annoying (apparently), so I got beaten on quite a bit. But other than that, we had a close knit family, and we had an awesome time all growing up together. Lots of big family dinners, spending time at the beach, surfing with my dad and brothers all day, hanging out with Mum on the farm – brilliant childhood memories. This kind of stuff was the usual, and we’re all pretty blessed and grateful.
Your mum is a super mum. What do you love about her, and how will your family be celebrating Mother’s Day?
She’s a total gem. She’s completely selfless to us kids and has devoted the last 35 years to all of us. Even now, being too old for her to make my bed and do my washing etc., she still devotes all her time to helping others through caring for the elderly and disabled. We all love her to bits. In addition to all this, she helped paint Old John’s and baked cakes for us (all of which were delicious).
We look forward to celebrating Mother’s Day in style – probably at the farm in Gleniffer. And we, the kids will cook a feast and do the dishes.