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Businesses in Southbank

12 Jul 2016

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A hidden gem

Tucked away on Normanby Rd behind South Wharf, many might be surprised to learn that a cool, cozy and community-centric cafe and events space exists.

The Sidearm Cafe and Gallery has become a regular staple for many locals living and working in Southbank, South Wharf and the quickly growing Montague precinct of Fishermans Bend.

Hidden in amongst what is largely a commercial and industrial hub, cafe and events manager Emma Williams said more and more people were still surprised to discover it.

“People often walk in and say ‘I had no idea you were here. This is so lovely’. It’s always well received,” she said.

“We love our local customers and we want them coming back and feeling as though they’re part of the family.”

According to Emma, the business’s owner Craig McDonald originally established the business as a “sidearm” to his adjoining business, MailGuard.

It’s an initiative that has been incredibly well received by many locals, with a menu offering a broad range of homemade breakfast and lunch options.

Emma said the new winter menu offered everything from fresh pies, sushi and sandwiches to cooked breakfast, baked delicacies and Five Senses coffee.

“We’ve got such a mixture of clientele from your corporates, to your tradies, to your general customers walking in,” she said. “It’s great to have that mix because the tradies love a good pie, whereas some people might have a salad or a soup.”

“We’re also well known for our barista coffee. We offer the Five Senses experience and alternate single origin beans alongside our blend, Dark Horse.”

As well as offering an extensive catering service, the business differentiates itself from other cafes again with a large gallery and events space.

Housing a niche collection of Australian artwork, the large space can be hired for any event ranging from birthday parties and exhibitions to work functions and user group meetings.

Emma said that the space added another surprising element to the business and was something that was always well received by those who had used it.

“People love the event space,” she said. “Whenever they come down they say it’s a beautiful space. It’s huge, it’s unique and it offers a lot in terms of offering something a little bit different.”

“Locals often pop in to use the art gallery space for ad-hoc meetings and informal catch ups. It’s a break from the office space, with the revolving artwork acting as inspiration at times. This shared space is free to use during the day for short periods of time.”

As the business continues to grow Emma said it was constantly evolving and finding new ways to satisfy its local customers.

And being located right in the thick of the future Fishermans Bend urban renewal precinct, she said the Sidearm was looking forward to serving the growing local community for many years to come.

“We’ve got quite a few buildings going up in the South Melbourne area and, at the moment, we’ve got the builders coming so hopefully when all of that’s finished we’ll get all of the residents coming in, which will be great,” she said.

“There’s definitely potential so hopefully it just keeps growing and getting bigger and I can keep hiring more staff!”

Sidearm Cafe and Gallery is located at 200 Normanby Rd.

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