The first retro mixed grill is not far off as restoration of Bingara’s 1936 Roxy Café nears completion.
Member for Northern Tablelands Richard Torbay recently re-visited the construction site with Manager Sandy McNaughton for an update on the work in progress.
“This is one of the most imaginative projects in the region,” he said. “It is really not so long since Greek Café culture dominated country towns across Australia. “Now there are very few left and the Roxy Café will be one that carries the flag for posterity with this wonderful reconstruction. “I’m looking forward to a mixed grill and a milkshake when it is in full operation.”
The Café project, funded through a $750,000 federal grant, follows an earlier upgrade, through state and federal funding, of the Roxy Cinema which now attracts around 15,000 visitors a year.
The grand art deco cinema and café were built in 1936 by three partners from Kythera in Greece. In 1965 when both enterprises had closed Bob and Elva Kirk bought the café which had become a freehold title, living upstairs and running a memorabilia shop on the ground floor.
Fortunately for the restoration project, which began when Gwydir Council bought the building in 2007 from a Chinese restaurant operator, Mr Kirk had stored many of the original fittings in his back shed.
Wood paneling, sections of booths or cubicles complete with laminex table tops, marble shelving, a glass window panel, decorative etched panes and the original neon sign at the café entrance have all been recovered and are being reinstalled in the café.
Ms McNaughton said further fixtures and fittings from Fardouley’s Café in Inverell including original counters, display cases, shelving, 12 tables and 26 chairs had been sourced for the refit. The project also includes a conference facility upstairs, a museum and the relocation of the Tourist Information Centre and a Trade Training Centre offering Certificate III Level Hospitality Training.
“We are trying to restore the café as faithfully as we can to recreate the setting and atmosphere of the original café,” Ms McNaughton said. “As far as we know this will be the only one that has been restored to operate as it did in the 1930’s, 40’s and ‘50s during its heyday.”