By Parker McKenzie
With the sale of the Cuckoo restaurant in Olinda imminent after it was declared on contract by the real estate agent responsible for its sale, now is a good time to look back on the storied history of the Dandenong Ranges institution.
The restaurant first opened in 1958, after the Quamby Tearooms were board by Willi and Karin Keoppen. The German-themed restaurant offered an all-you-can-eat smorgasbord made by chef Willi Keoppen, who was a famous TV chef on Channel 7.
In 1976, Mr Keoppen disappeared under controversial and mysterious circumstances at age 46. Born in Berlin in 1929, Mr Keoppen immigrated to Australia during the 1950s. After making his fortune in Australia, at the time of his disappearance business was booming.
The last time he was seen was on Saturday 28 February 1976. After drinking with a friend, Mr Koeppen left in his car, the last time he was seen alive.
The coroner’s report said the suspected cause of death is homicide, however, despite an investigation by Victoria Police; Mr Keoppen’s body has never been located and the cause of his presumed death is unknown.
The restaurant has been owned by the Keoppen family for the following four decades and was a famous tourist destination before it closed during the Covid-19 pandemic. Despite briefly reopening, the family decided to sell the business in 2021.