At the ripe old age of four Dean took a trip to market with his dad.

I really think that’s when the market life got in my blood and that’s why I’m still a greengrocer to this day”, Dean Lamb

That primitive feeling of offering a rewarding meal after a day well spent, still lingers over the very essence of Parisian restaurant. Continuously serving the healthy and junkie side of the day.

How It Began

How Watts Fresh, as you see it today came into being is really a very interesting story.  It’s really two stories in one, chance intersections in time, but we will get to that a bit later. Stories are best started from the beginning so let’s do that. We have to jump in our time machine and wind the clock way back to 1944.  

The second world war was just coming to an end and steam trains still ran the rails between Melbourne and Bendigo. People still had house cows in their back paddocks and every backyard had chickens. Phone numbers in Kyneton were still so few that the exchange had not even entered into three-digit numbers yet.

It was a vastly different time.  Old Par Watts was an avid gardener and grew a large vegetable garden at his property in Wedge Street.  

Young Fred Watts, Pa’s son took charge of the deliveries and peddled Pa’s veggies all over town to the apron clad housewives that were cooking up good hearty country meals for their families. As the business grew Fred had to park his push bike and began doing deliveries with a horse and cart around town.

The First Store

As the war came to an end Fred’s brother Len returned home from active service and the two of them decided to open a fruit shop and garden supply business together at 154 Mollison Street Kyneton.

The shop opened on 5th of December 1956 and with Len and Fred joining forces the business became known as Watts Brothers Fruiterers & Florists. The shop proved to be a great success and Fred and Len sold everything from local strawberries to daffodil bulbs and polyanthus seedlings. It employed many well-known locals and Watts family members over the years.

The store was set up as full-service store and everything was meticulously stacked and every customer was served and the goods hand picked by the staff. It continued this way right through the 50’s, but change was coming…

The Times They Are a Changing

By the time the swinging 60’s rolled around Fred and Len had had enough and decided to hang up their market aprons. On November 29, 1965 the business was sold to Jim and Elain Barron.  The 60’s were a time of great change and it was big news when Watts Bros changed to BARRONS SELF SERVE. It was a brand-new way to do business where the consumer could choose their own goods and go to the checkout. It was a revelation. Jim was a modern man and he installed the businesses first cool store.  

Jim and Elain also had a small orchard at Elphinstone and so supplied the shop with much of their own produce. Jim boasted “the two cool rooms could hold 800 cases of apples and 3 tons of fresh vegetables”. The store went on to be a great success for Jim and Elain but nothing lasts forever and they sold out in the early seventies. Over the next few years, the store had a couple of different owners until Len Watts Son, Geoff together with his wife Sue purchased the business and the Watts name once again appeared over the front door, This time as Watts Fruit & Garden Supplies.  

Geoff and Sue owned and operated the business for an incredible 27 years before selling up and retiring. The new owners did not really take to the country life and quickly wanted to return to Melbourne.  Within six months the business was back on the market looking for a new owner…... and this is when two worlds collide.

Are You Local?

It was in 2012 that Dean and Sherril Lamb purchased Watts Fruit & Garden Supplies.  So, the most commonly asked question for the first few months after the very quick change of ownership was “are you local”?  “Um, yep”, was the short answer.  Actually, this was the not the first time Dean and Sherril had owned a fruit and vegetable business in Kyneton, let me explain.

Shortly after Dean and Sherril met and got Married in 1995, they purchased Tom Russo’s fruit shop at 59 Mollison Street Kyneton. They rebranded as Kyneton Country Fresh and for a few years they were actually Watts’ opposition.  Dean and Sherril only owned Kyneton Country Fresh for about three years before heading off on new adventures.  They built a nursery in Bendigo and operated that for about four years before being drawn back into the fruit and vegetable industry.  Dean often jokes that the fruit and vegetable game is a lot like the song Hotel California, “you can never leave”.

On advice from an old mate in the market Dean and Sherril purchased “Gaffney’s Fruit” from a retiring Ian Gaffney in Warragul in 2001.  It was a big move away from family but a familiar return to the early mornings and market life for Dean.  The business grew rapidly and expanded to include a health food store, a deli and juice bar.  Expansion continued with a second store in nearby Moe. In 2007 they were supper chuffed to win Best Victorian Fresh Produce Retailer of the year award and in 2008 were inducted into the Melbourne Market Hall of Fame. However, after ten years in this business it was time to move back home to be near aging family.

The intention was to say goodbye to the fruit game and the early market life, but not all things go to plan. What was the line in that song again?

Current Site Opened 11 October 2019

After returning home in 2012 Dean and Shez needed to find something that would pay the bills. News that Watts was for sale soon filtered through and they found themselves the proud new owners of Watts Fruit and Garden Supplies.  Hotel California was on the radio yet again!  They quickly went about rebranding the business as Watts Fresh, a play on words that would ensure the founders name would live on.  Before long the business had outgrown its space and they found themselves looking for a new site.  After almost two years of work Dean and Shez had turned a car yard into a fruit shop. They were excited (and exhausted) to open their brand-new store 167-173 Mollison Street Kyneton on Friday 11th of October 2019. The rest is history.

The most amazin' team you can imagine

This diversity is beneficial in so many ways, most notably in the meaningful planet friendly food that we cook.

Dean Lamb
Anny Banks
Chef John
Jack helper

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Call - (03) 5422 1651
Email - orders@wattsfresh.com.au

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