Joanne White always had “very big ideas” according to her mother, but had always pulled back and never finished those ideas, until now.
Ms White opened Stawell’s newest cafe` last week, Cafe` 1868 after more than two years planning the project.
“I was a bookkeeper for 30 years and I thought there is more to life than being a successful bookkeeper,” Ms White said.
“So I saw the for sale sign on this building and randomly decided, let’s run a cafe`.”
The building at 54 Longfield Street was built in 1868 and used as a literary and science institute. Gold in the Pleasant Creek started to peter out, so the population moved away and the institute was sold in 1876. It was used as a private residence since and was registered as an historic building with Heritage Victoria in 1982.
Ms White said she wanted to give diners a blast from the past with the site’s rich history.
“Our motto is we are history and where people meet,” she said.
“Already we have been getting customers saying this is where their grandfather or uncle used to live.”
The cafe` has been open for a week and Ms White said it was long enough to determine the “random” business decision was the right move.
“I’ve always been in business, but never hospitality so I am stepping out of my comfort zone,” she said.
“So far it has been amazing, we have had people who came last week and returning already.”
But Ms White said she did have concerns for her business as the Stawell Tyre Yard saga lingered and the Stawell Gold Mines entered into a care and maintenance phase last year.
“We had already invested so much time and money into the project and you worry because you know people were looking to move away,” she said.
“But to be able to offer jobs is always great for the town.”
Cafe` 1868 has since employed six workers.
“And not just directly employing people, but using local plumbers, electricians, painters – anyone who was involved in bringing this old building to life,” Ms White said.
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