Café rises from the ashes

The Free Press (Corowa) - - FRONT PAGE - BY JAR­RYD BARCA

It took months of plan­ning with Indigo Shire to get ap­provals and plans, be­fore be­gin­ning to re­build the shop in late March this year.

Store owner Dawn Leahy was in Mel­bourne on the night a deep fryer caught flames in the more-than 100-year-old build­ing on main street and re­called the shat­ter­ing mo­ment she heard of the news.

“(My son) Chev and I were watch­ing the Carl­ton game at the M CG when my daugh­ter Jus­tine called and said there was an is­sue with the fryer,” She told The Free Press.

“I was in shock. When Chev showed me the pho­tos of the flames com­ing through the roof, I was in pure shock.

“I walked from the MCG back to where we were stay­ing in Richmond, and to this day I can’t re­mem­ber get­ting there.”

Ms Leahy said her main worry was cus­tomers and work­ers in the shop at the time re­ceiv­ing po­ten­tial in­juries, but luck­ily ev­ery­one got out.

The Leahy fam­ily has had the café for 19 years, mean­ing there were lots of per­sonal items in there, in­clud­ing au­to­mo­bile mem­o­ra­bilia and wed­ding tele­grams, that turned into char­coal.

“It’s been a re­ally big fam­ily ef­fort to get it back up and run­ning,” Ms Leahy said.

“Chev has helped out a lot with the logo de­sign and also the light­ing, Jus­tine did the colour-co­or­di­nat­ing.”

Ms Leahy said it was a very long process, but is re­lieved to fi­nally be back work­ing.

“We had lots of is­sues with in­sur­ance com­pa­nies and there were lots of things we had to fix and re­place, such as floor­ing, drainage and pipes,” she said.

Ms Leahy said the tough­est thing to over­come through­out the gru­el­ing process was time. “A week re­ally goes nowhere,” she said.

“It took five and a half months of look­ing at plans but once we got that right we were up and run­ning.”

See­ing the shop burn down “was a night­mare” ac­cord­ing to Ms Leahy, how­ever with the new modern feel to the shop, it could also be de­scribed as a “bless­ing in dis­guise”.

“We’ve been able to im­ple­ment dif­fer­ent things around the place such as a new cool room and toi­let room,” she said.

“We had to bring the store to the 2018 re­quire­ments, so we’ve had to in­clude a wheel­chair ramp, which is fine be­cause we have a great lit­tle area out the front where peo­ple can sit.”

The place may look dif­fer­ent and up to date, but the food qual­ity is much the same.

“We do have a lot more seat­ing and we’ve de­cided to do a cof­fee and cakes and slices area, but we still make our own chips and our own potato cakes. We cut our own fish and bat­ter it all our­selves, so ev­ery­thing is still freshly made.”

Sil­ver Key was al­ways a busy and pop­u­lar store and, through­out its re­cess, Ms Leahy ex­pe­ri­enced a lot of lo­cals anx­ious for the shop to be back up and run­ning.

“Peo­ple around town have been ap­proach­ing and won­der­ing when we’re open­ing... one per­son said they’ve been hav­ing to buy frozen fish from the su­per­mar­ket (with dis­ap­point­ment),” she said.

“It’s a huge sense of re­lief hav­ing the store fin­ished, up to date and be­ing opened again. Ev­ery­thing is signed off now, no more doc­u­ments. We’re ready to go.”

Ms Leahy thanked the many “great peo­ple” who helped re­vi­talise the café, from fire­fight­ers, con­struc­tion work­ers and builders, in­sur­ance com­pa­nies and lo­cals.

“I’m look­ing for­ward to see­ing all of our old cus­tomers and new ones too, see­ing peo­ple we haven’t in a long time,” she said.

More than two years ago, the shop was voted the best fish and chip shop in the north­east dur­ing a com­pe­ti­tion run by ra­dio sta­tion 3NE/EDGE FM in Wan­garatta.

Sil­ver Key Café is open from 7.30am8.30pm seven days a week.

Pop­u­lar Ruther­glen café Sil­ver Key of­fi­cially re-opened its doors on the week­end, nearly 16 months af­ter a dev­as­tat­ing blaze de­stroyed the iconic take­away shop.

Jus­tine (left) and Dawn Leahy (store owner) were ex­cited to re-open Sil­ver Key Café’s doors.

More than a year af­ter the take­away shop was en­gulfed with flames, Sil­ver Key Café has un­der­gone a re­ju­ve­na­tion and it’s bet­ter than ever.

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