Not surprisingly, the Weidlich Foodstore is on the corner of Weidlich Road and Tamboon Rd in leafy Eltham North. It's a local street in a perfect location for Al and Tash to create a new age milk bar. Al told us that some of the best times of his life were when he was a kid and he remembers visiting the local bar. He didn't want the corner store being lost in Australian history.
There is quite a story behind the creation of the business and most of the furniture at the Weidlich Foodstore. The industrial theme has been used to fit out the roomy store. The main feature is the Oregon table that must be nearly 4m long that stretches all the way down the centre. Made from one piece of Oregon that is over 300 years old, the timber had been aging for eight years. It weighs over 5 tonne and is supported by an old railway beam. The effect is stunning. The old bicycle ceiling feature was made by Al and the chunky lights are from Russian ships.
The Russian ship light hangs over the 300 year Oregan table
This new age milk bar also features a coffee table carved by a famous artist for the late Indonesian President Suharto. His friend paid $20,000 for the table plus $3000 to have it imported. Unfortunately for him, it did not fit in his house so now it also features at the Weidlich Foodstore.
When Al and Tash bought the shop it was run down, graffitied and tagged by teenagers. Al employed the best graffiti artist in Australia, Dubiz, to redecorate the main outside wall. Al wanted it to be a tourist attraction so Dubiz was given free reign and the effect is engrossing. Al is confident the locals will not graffiti over it. He even invited teenagers to watch the artwork being created.
Because of the artwork, you cannot miss this new addition to Eltham. Even though it's only been open for three weeks because local anticipation has grown over the last three months while they have been renovating. The tremendous interest has transformed into popular patronage already. Despite the fact that there has been no advertising the Weidlich Foodstore already have regulars. I spoke to a local who said she stops every morning to pick up a coffee on the way to work. A couple enjoying a very large bacon and eggs brekkie told me that they had already been for breakfast three times.
The food store is open from 6 am Mon-Sat and a little later on weekends until eight or nine at night. There's something for everyone. They aim to cater for the tradies passing in the morning as well as mothers, dog walkers and bike riders, those seeking coffee or take away, anyone who has forgotten something at the supermarket, and they have ready-made meals to pick up on the way home. Locals cook meal packs and cakes. Al and Tash plan to introduce more health food soon, as well as a night menu including burgers and chips. They have installed a bike rack for rider's convenience.
The meals are inexpensive, for example the brekkie items (available until 12pm) include bircher muesli for $6.50, ham and cheese croissant for $6.50 and eggs benedict $8.50. Scrambled eggs with bacon on roti are $11.50. One cup of creamy hot chocolate and one cup of very good coffee was $8.80.
While we were sipping on our delicious drinks, a fresh batch of chocolate chip muffins topped with squares of chocolate were bought out on the tray. It's lucky that I had just had breakfast and I have remarkable self-control.
I should make mention of the friendly and welcoming staff. Heather served us and was happy to answer our questions about the creation of the Weidlich Foodstore. I recognised her from another local café. I also had a chat to the handsome Tony ], the barista who was a little worried about having his photo in the magazine. He thought he might get too popular and wondered what his wife would think! Tell him he's a superstar when you see him!
The Weidlich Foodstore is doing what it was intending to do - bring locals back to their corner shop. They would love to build a big decking area in the future so that people can sit reading their paper in the sun.
Big Al and Tash have a dream. Al (by his own confession) claims he gets bored easily and he already has plans for his next venture. Drop by and say hello. They are sure to have time for a chinwag about their amazing creation.
The people who have opened this lovely store have great coffee and are open and a pleasure to meet and chat with. Highly recommended and very best of luck after all you have done to make this a great looking place. 6 stars and another 6 for the friendliness. Michele
This is my neighborhood cafe, and I love it. Just come and check it out! I want to thank the owners for taking the time, effort, resources and courage to go ahead with this idea. Truly a community initiative much needed in the Greensborough suburb. A good place to hang out indeed. The coffee served is excellent, as are the ever increasing menu.