Long-time customer and Goulburn photographer Peter Sykes was first through the door on Wednesday morning when the Greengrocer cafe re-opened to the public.
The popular stop on Clifford Street, which was destroyed by fire in January, 2016, was back, attracting the city’s movers and shakers and avid cyclists stopping by for a coffee.
Owner Con Toparis said the fire, its aftermath and the journey back had been emotional.
“It was really devastating for my family, my wife, Lana and myself,” he said.
“I was a bit lost and it was difficult but I had the support of a lot of people, including the building owners John and Margaret Emery, Steve Cambridge from Elders Insurance and regular customers, all of whom made us feel we could do it.”
Mr Toparis “kept bread on the table” by selling cycles, previously part of the business, while the new premises was planned and built. He said a great deal of planning also went into the new product range, how it would be sold and the cafe arranged.
The new structure, designed by Andrew Randall, employs glass liberally and has a light, bright feel with white interior and timber furnishings made locally. The cafe opens into the rear cyclery and a timber dining deck at the rear, which is a new addition. Photos of the former cafe adorn the front counter walls for old time’s sake. All local tradesmen have been employed on construction and fit-out.
The building occupies the same footprint as the old.
Mr Toparis said some of the former staff had returned but others had moved on. The cafe employs 12 people
“It’s the feel of the place. We were quite innovative in bringing fresh food to Goulburn but it wasn’t all about the product. It’s a place to feel comfortable and see a familiar face.”
Greengrocer started in 2002 in the former Wesfarmers Dalgety premises, which Mr Toparis said was the perfect style and location for the cafe.