The exterior itself is gorgeous, but it did little to prepare me for what I would encounter inside. From the moment I walked through the door, I was completely captivated by the rustic charm that seeps out of every brick and floorboard of this cherished abode.
The café serves a wholesome and reasonably priced menu without charging you the extra 5 dollars for the pretentiousness you pay for in other places. You can choose from indoor, street-side or courtyard seating, depending on your mood.
But this is so much more than just a café; in fact, Side Door Café is the most recent addition to the establishment and was only officially opened this year around January. On the premises, there is also an adjoining pub called Station 59 and function room.
Station 59 is the kind of pub where you'll see no flat screen TVs hanging from the ceilings. This place captures the essence of old pub spirit and is one of the few remaining horseshoe bars in Melbourne. A place where you can come together with friends, to listen to free live music, have a game of pool, or even throw some darts.
Station 59 is closed on Mondays, but has a variety of entertainment available throughout the rest of the week. With club Pool Tournaments Tuesday nights, Open Mic Comedy Wednesday nights, and Live Music Friday – Saturday, you'll have your nights full of fun and laughs. Time to peel yourself from the telly at home and have some real fun. Rally up your friends and include them in the revelry!
Part of a band and wanting somewhere to play a few gigs? Call and book yourself in to play for a live music evening.
On the day I was there, I was fortunate enough to meet the owner, Michael Giacomi who gave me an extensive history lesson, and tour of the venue. His eyes light up as he recounts the stories of the old pub and you realise that this is not just a business venture for him, this is his passion.
According to Michael, in the 1970's, the local council burnt down, taking with it the precious historical account of this place. However, he has gleaned his information from the locals who still know a thing or two about the hidden history of Station 59.
Although the building is not heritage listed, it should be, as the site is over 100 years old. Built sometime in the late 1800's, the old pub was known as The Earl of Lincoln. Back in the day, the pub was exclusively for locals and if an outsider walked in, they would not have felt welcome at all.
Over the decades, the pub slowly deteriorated. Michael, who is also a fire-fighter, worked across the street from it for years and felt inspired to bring this old relic back to life as Station 59. Reinventing and renaming themselves, the owners strive to welcome with open doors and friendly staff.
Michael and his wife have worked hard renovating the establishment and the result is an exquisite and an innovative styled interior, without compromising the historical characteristics of the building. Every corner is lovingly fashioned.
Exposed Red Brick
In the café, rendered walls have been chipped away to expose rich, red brick walls beneath. Tables are made from re-cycled timber and their bases are made from discarded fire escape sections. Even the front door of the café has buckets of personality. Over 100 years old, it was picked up at a trash and treasure store for a mere $40.
In addition to everything, there is also a little theatre/function room attached to the pub that is available to hire for any occasion. It has that old school, art house feel that you only find in vintage cinemas these days. And guess what? For parties of over 50 people, there is no hire charge. There are 3 Function Menus to choose from and they are happy to adapt the menu to cater for any food allergies or intolerances.
Not another faceless corporation, this place has true heart and soul. As I left, I felt like my life was a little richer for having been there. The charisma and passion so clearly visible in Side Door Café and Station 59 is catching, and you will leave with a smile that's impossible to wipe off your face.