It’s been a bank, it’s been a restaurant, and until recently it was the Bellingen Green Grocers.
Now the heritage building facing the intersection of Hyde St and Church St is about to reopen as The Corner Store Bellingen.
Business owner Steve Klipin says it will be similar to, but different from, what was there previously.
“It’s going to be about food but it’s also going to be about education,” he says.
You will still be able to buy fresh fruit and vegetables; they’ll be on the western side and will spill out onto the verandah in all their seasonal and local glory.
And the deli cabinet will still be a feature, “filled with stuff that we make”, Steve says.
The chefs will be Emma Lynch, who trained with Neil Perry and did Klip’s Dips with Steve when he and his family first came to town in 1997, and Lior Klipin, the eldest son of Steve Klipin and Lisa Siegel, who recently qualified as a chef.
There won’t be table service – the prepared meals will be available to take home or to eat perched at a high table in the light-filled room at the front, looking out over the centre of town.
Steve admits that Bellingen doesn’t necessarily need another food venue, but says there are two things they are trying to do that are a bit different – “sustainable and educational”.
“Lisa and I have been involved in education all of our adult lives. Lisa’s doing a doctorate in environmental education at the moment and I’ve been with Chrysalis for 14 years.
“So what will the education look like? Well, everyone has more kale in their garden currently than they know what do with, so we might have a cooking class around kale.
“You can bring your own or use the kale here, and we’ll show you four ways with kale and we’ll have a meal together.
“And the other thing about education will be about where the food comes from. There are a bunch of excellent farmers here, but where do they get to talk about what they do?”
Steve says The Corner Store will use as much local food as it can and draw on the Sydney and Brisbane markets when that’s not possible.
“Mangoes are a good example. We do grow mangoes here, but it’s a very short growing season.”
And why call it The Corner Store?
Well, Steve says, because you walk in right on the corner, and a corner is where edges and people meet, and it’s also where you turn or make a change.
We’re different. There was a green grocer, there was a restaurant, there was a bank. This is the latest iteration.Steve Klipin
The building was constructed in 1926 by George Moore to be the Bank of NSW, and it remained a bank until the 1990s.
Current owner Avi Shaul renovated it extensively and ran it as Mouza Gallery and Restaurant until 2014.
The full opening of The Corner Store is not until Friday July 27, but the plan is to have a bit of a pop-up happening by Friday July 13, in time for the Bellingen Winter Music Festival.
“We’re going to pop up the four Cs,” Steve says. “Cake, coffee, curry and chai.”