Kim Seagram: Stillwater Restaurant
From Canada to Tasmania, Kim’s story features award-winning restaurants and accommodation, board directorships, a gin company and more
Kim Seagram’s Tasmanian story began at a Canadian ski lodge. It was here that the Montreal-born hotelier first laid eyes on her future husband – a Tasmanian. Since then, Kim has spent the last 27 years celebrating Tasmania through the hospitality and tourism industry.
When Rod Ascui first enticed Kim to his island home, little did he know he was recruiting someone who, in 2019, would be inducted onto the Tasmanian Honour Roll of Women for her service to business and industry. Kim has spent nearly three decades celebrating her adopted home through successful business ventures and dedication to regional growth and development.
When the couple began their life together in northern Tasmania in the early 1990s, initially their focus was on developing Lalla Gully Vineyard and Ripples Café in Launceston. Their dedication to excellence and high-quality product and service soon became a hallmark of all Rod and Kim’s enterprises.
In 2000, after selling Lalla Gully, the couple transformed Ripples into Stillwater Restaurant on the banks of the Tamar River, converting a character-filled 1830s flour mill.
“I believed we should be showcasing Tasmania. I knew we had some of the best produce and wine in Australia,” explains Kim. “Nineteen years on we are still receiving a hat in the Good Food Guide. It’s testament to the longevity a good business can have when you listen to customers, have a strong succession plan and focus on Tasmania’s strengths.”
In 2008, the couple took on another venture, the acclaimed Black Cow Bistro located in Launceston’s CBD. Ever the industrious developer and incubator of local talent, Kim did not stop there.
Instrumental in the founding of Harvest Launceston Community Farmers’ Market in 2011, Kim has watched the popular market swell from 24 stalls to 70, drawing about 5 000 visitors every Saturday. From this, new businesses have flourished, products have been market tested and some stallholders have progressed to occupy empty shopfronts in the Launceston CBD.
Kim and Rod also have a strong presence in the spirits industry, which is fitting for Kim whose great great grandfather founded the Seagram’s empire that at one stage was the largest owner of alcoholic beverage lines worldwide.
Kim was elected to the Vineyards Association of Tasmania Committee of Management and later was instrumental in the National Wine Tourism Strategy and resulting Australian Wine Tourism Alliance.
Together, they launched the Abel Gin Company in partnership with winemaker Natalie Fryar in 2016.
Her commitment to the industry also includes a decade as Deputy Chair of the Brand Tasmania Council and more than eight years on the Tourism Tasmania Board, and in 2017 Kim was inducted into the Launceston Chamber of Commerce Hall of Fame.
FermenTasmania is another recent project. It is an incubator for the development and marketing of new fermented products which create start-up opportunities and grow existing businesses and provide additional economic development for Tasmania.
Kim and Rod employ 75 Tasmanians across their different businesses. Forty three staff deliver the standard for which Stillwater Restaurant is known. There are 24 staff at Black Cow, three for the gin operation and a further five at Stillwater SEVEN, their latest accommodation venture. The seven beautifully appointed rooms have already picked up a series of awards and been splashed across the pages of glossy magazines nationwide.
“I loved this project because I got to fix every hotel room problem I’ve ever been grumpy about,” laughs Kim. “We used Tasmanian talent for every element and that’s what I’m most proud of. The accommodation is spectacular because it’s wholly and solely Tasmanian.”
So, what is it Kim loves most about living in Tasmania? That’s simple, it’s the people.
“I work hard but that’s because I love what I do and it doesn’t feel like work. I love building community which is still very much alive in Tasmania. The people here care about each other. When I visit someone, there’s always a cake coming out of the oven or a big pot of tea brewing,” smiles Kim. “These are the reasons I love this place.”
Are you interested in making a move? Make it Tasmania.