Wollongong's thriving small-bar culture has been one of the cornerstones of the CBD’s recent revitalisation, but its newest player is set to shake (and bake) up the market.
Three Chimneys, in Town Hall Place behind the Illawarra Performing Arts Centre, will open its doors next month. An eclectic hybrid bar, bakehouse and cafe, the large warehouse-style venue will bring to the region a new taste of big-city lifestyle.
“We’d go to Sydney and have amazing food up there. We realised if there wasn’t any of it in Wollongong, we would bring it here,” Three Chimneys co-owner Shane Jaque said.
The owners are hoping their diverse offering – on-site coffee roasting, wood-fired sourdough bread, a range of craft beers on tap – will help the business stand out.
Jaque, who runs the Meni cafe in Crown Street, and Brad Davies, of Delano cafe, are behind the venture. They have experience in local foodie culture, but are not the only ones on board.
Their kitchen staff includes the current Australian artisan bread-making champion, and winners of best cafe and best breakfast in the Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide.
“Finding good bread is hard here, so we thought we’d just make it ourselves,” Jaque said.
“I think Wollongong is ready for better produce.”
The venue is still being polished with a few finishing touches, but offers a unique decor. The giant wooden front doors – 150 years old and sourced from Wooloomooloo wharf – stand guard over the entrance. Inside it’s a blend of rough wood, slick industrial-style surfaces, leather couches, pinball machines and a huge mural on the wall.
The open-plan layout lets customers watch the bread being baked or the coffee beans roasted.
“If we can make it on site, we will,” Mr Jaque said.
Three Chimneys is expected to launch early next month. It will open for breakfast and lunch every day, and into the night over the weekend. The owners are planning various activities inside, including live music and petting zoos.
“I’ve been looking for a venue for two or three years,” Mr Davies said.
“It needed to be a special spot and this is it.”