Café entrepreneurs are thumbing their noses at the CBD in favour of somewhat unexpected locales – right down the road from you, in fact.
Ballarat is experiencing something of a Renaissance in café culture, with some of the city’s most uber-hip coffee venues now taking over formerly less trendy sites, such as fish n’ chip shops and milk bars.
The changing face of Ballarat’s café scene is bringing to life suburban streets and less central spots, reminiscent of a trend that has been occurring in Melbourne for some time.
Webster’s Market and Café has been doing a roaring trade in a former corner shop since opening in October last year.
The café is owner Jane Meneses and her husband’s first, after having lived in Ballarat for the past five years.
“To be honest, Sturt Street never grabbed me. There was nothing on Sturt Street that took my eye,” Mrs Meneses said.
“You’ve got to get the feeling, and driving up this street, there’s enough businesses around here that you know (patronage) isn’t going to be a major issue.”
Mrs Meneses said she liked the idea of servicing a residential area instead of the city block, and with parking not an issue, attracted a variety of professionals, casual customers and hospital staff.
The Local has been open for only six weeks in Lydiard Street North in an old space that has been a milk bar, a commercial cake kitchen, and most recently a cat café.
Owner Tracey Simmonds said she saw beyond the “ugly” space to see its true beauty and potential.
The Local is fast becoming a favourite haunt of university students and professionals on lunch breaks, as well as a coffee spot for visitors staying in nearby bed and breakfasts.
It’s also becoming a locale for art and artists, with Ms Simmonds’ philosophy of exhibiting and selling work by local young artists as well as her plans to host a wide array of creative workshops.
“I wanted to create a local for people, but I wanted to create local and regional food and produce,” Ms Simmonds said.
The Tin Roof in Soldiers Hill is a glamorous new café at the site of a former fish n’ chip shop.
Owner Gayle Hughes said she felt patrons were looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of main streets.
She also said many of her customers said they felt “like they’re in Melbourne”.
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