Elouise Dukalskis hasn’t followed your traditional path to being manager of a racing club, but that’s exactly why the Port Lincoln Racing Club committee thought she was the perfect candidate for the job.
The 29 year old opened the hugely successful Rogue and Rascal café on the foreshore in Port Lincoln in her early 20’s, which quickly became a favourite in the local community.
“For a long time I’ve had pretty well established roots in the food and hospitality sector, and lots of large scale festivals and events, which I think was a huge part of the pull for the committee to bring me here,” said Elouise.
“I moved to Port Lincoln in my early 20’s and opened up a café with my partner at the time, and that very quickly expanded.
“It was right on the foreshore with a beuatiful view over the jetty. We thought it was just going to be one of those little very casual café operations but it very quickly spiralled into this behemoth of a business as we expanded.
“We would run functions and events across both levels, degustation’s on the jetty, and all sorts of crazy, creative events over the years. We were very active in the community.
“Hospitality is also one of those things you’re not exactly doing from the office, you’re in the trenches when you’re on it so you’re meeting all sorts of people. So the connections around town will hopefully be valuable to the PLRC as well,” she said.
Dukalskis sold the business in May this year, and recently returned from a working holiday in Queenstown where she was managing a venue.
It’s a pattern she’s followed in recent years – taking winters out of Port Lincoln to use as professional development in other regional tourism hotspots.
Last year she was in the Whitsunday’s at the luxury InterContinental Hayman Islands Resort, and also spent a winter at Thredbo running their premier restaurant.
“When you’re talking about a racing club, you’re often thinking mostly about the horses and the racing industry as a business.
“But for a race club the longevity of the club, and the social license to trade, comes from what you’re doing for the community and how you’re engaging with and hosting space for the community - which I think hospitality owners understand on a deep level,” said Elouise.
“So I do think there’s a lot to lend to that, and you really have to need to be adaptable to situations that change at the drop of a hat. And racing too is one of those things where the conditions of the track or the weather, or the scratching’s of the day can change.
“So the industry is very dynamic and small business certainly prepares you for that,” said Elouise.
After starting in the PLRC General Manager role in mid-October, Elouise has set about engaging the Port Lincoln community she knows so well, and is grateful for the support of new Chairman David Reid and the committee.
“Yesterday was my first track race, but they’ve already had two and we’ve got fourteen for the season, so I’ve kind of rolled in on a whirl-wind and we’re already going.
“I'm excited to see how this season goes, and to build on the great foundation that the Port Lincoln Racing Club committee has been working hard on,” she said.