24 December 2023

Five minutes with Deb Hamilton, Yazzbar

| Claire Sams
Join the conversation
A woman pointing at a sign and smiling

Deb took ownership of Yazzbar after being manager for three years – and she wouldn’t have it any other way. Photo: Yazzbar/Facebook.

Who are you?

Just call me Debs. I’m the owner of the Yazzbar and I live in Yass.

What is your venue?

The original owners were Penny and Harvey, and they decided to open up a wine bar showcasing all the local cool climate wines when they moved to Yass. At the time, no one – not Canberra or anyone around the area – was showcasing or selling any of the local wines. They had Helm Wines, Four Winds Vineyard, Clonakilla Wines, The Vintner’s Daughter and others. They’d always have wine tastings and have music on the weekends.

The wine bar started off as one room – and then over the years it got busier. Penny and Harvey were still working in the bar and I would cook in the bar, making pizzas and tapas. All the customers found that very entertaining, especially as the years went on and it was getting busier and busier! We decided to extend into the next room of the building, and then we created the outdoor courtyard and eventually expanded again and put a commercial kitchen in.

When Penny and Harvey retired, I decided to buy the place, as I’d been manager for three years.

READ ALSO Yenda’s groundbreaking Naturally Dried Prunes company begins on-farm chocolate coating

What does your day-to-day look like?

I clean the place, do the food prep so everything is ready and I’ll check in with the four staff in the kitchen. I have two really good staff members on the floor, so they’ll come in and do the work to set up the place for the service.

If I’m not in the kitchen, then I’m at the bar and then I’m just overseeing everything.

How did you get involved in the hospitality industry?

I’ve always worked in hospitality since I was young – I think I started at the age of 14 or 15 in a bar in Curtin [in Canberra]. I ended up working at the Hyatt for two years, and then travelled overseas, backpacking and working in hospitality. Then I came back to Australia. My girlfriend had started an Italian restaurant in Canberra, in the 90s, so I worked there, and then I went to Belluci’s.

Over my my career, I’ve had a few kids and then moved to Yass seven years ago because while Canberra was a fantastic place to grow up in, I didn’t want to stay. I worked in a cafe but also worked part-time at the Yazzbar.


Yazzbar began as a place to showcase wines from the regions and has become a staple of Comur Street. Photo: Yazzbar/Facebook.

What are the top three menu items that really show what your venue can do?

Our pizzas are pretty well known around Yass – and they’re different to the normal pizzas. I get our pizza bases from Canberra from Dom’s Woodfired Gourmet Bread and they’re just amazing bases. I’ve tried a few others but I just keep on going back to them. We have a pizza with camembert, honey, thyme and crushed walnuts and served with bread that’s very popular. We make zucchini fritters and we do grazing boards and a lot of sharing dishes. Those are probably our top dishes.

But what’s really rocking at the moment is the cocktails – they overshine all the wines and everything. We do a drink that’s a rose slushy basically, and frozen margaritas, French 75 cocktails and pina coladas are very popular at the moment.

What is your favourite or must use ingredient when cooking?

Fresh herbs – you can’t go past them – and garlic. Those are my staples.

What is the region’s best kept food secrets?

I would say the Sir George Pub in Jugiong, but on the weekend, you go and half of Canberra’s there! That’s not really a secret, even though they do have new owners and are doing really well. Grazing in Gundaroo has an amazing chef, as well.

What TV show or movie are you watching right now?

I don’t watch a lot of TV, so if anything I’ll watch something on Netflix. I like the shows that have 20- to 30-minute episodes on people that are making a difference or have very different businesses overseas in America and all that. I like to watch shows which showcase the journey from when they started to where they are now.

Other than that, it’s just generally some music. That helps me to calm me down after work.

READ ALSO Jim Wild’s Oysters is a ‘shucking’ great family farm

What was a great (culinary) experience you had recently?

A while ago, when I was doing the new wine menu, I went to different wineries to do wine tastings and see what I’d put on the menu. I went to Brindabella Hills in Wallaroo and had an amazing experience. You go there on the weekend, you do a free wine tasting and your wines are matched with fudge. It all just pops in your mouth – the flavours and everything match. Then we sat down and had lunch there, and the chef there is absolutely amazing. The food is five-star.

Where do you dine out for special occasions?

For my birthday this year, about 20 of us went to the Yass Golf Club and that was great. But if I was to mark a special occasion or want a nice treat for myself, I’d go to one of the wineries in Canberra or Orange or Young and experience their hospitality.

Who do you admire in the Yass food scene?

A friend of mine is called Ash; she runs a local cafe here called Thyme to Taste [in Comur Street in Yass]. She purchased the cafe off the original owners. It’s open seven days a week and is quite an eclectic looking place. It has a courtyard at the back so it sort of looks like you’re walking into a cafe in Newtown in Sydney.

She is only 28 and has a seven-year-old son; she’s doing an amazing job. I really take my hat off to her.

An easy one to finish – what’s your go-to coffee order?

A large triple-shot latte on full cream milk. I have two of them before 12 o’clock, and I’m good to go for the rest of the day.

Yazzbar is located at 81-85 Comur Street in Yass, and is open Thursday to Saturday noon to 12 am, as well as the last Sunday of each month.

Join the conversation

All Comments
  • All Comments
  • Website Comments

Love this! Deb is weapon! Years ago I worked with Deb at a pub in Canberra. She is such a hard worker and always cared about the people around her. So stoked to hear she is doing well at an awesome sounding bar, I must get to!

Daily Digest

Do you like to know what’s happening around your region? Every day the About Regional team packages up our most popular stories and sends them straight to your inbox for free. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.