We were pleased to be amongst the first to have a coffee at The Old Cop Shop after the ‘Station’ re-opened its doors after a decade of abandonment. Many locals have been intrigued by what was happening at the old police station in Melbourne’s northern suburb of Coburg, in Victoria, Australia.
For the last ten years, the only movement at the Station had been vandals and vagrants, but now a grander future waits the former Victoria Police station which was built in 1928
Architect Bill Balakis has brought new life to the old building through innovative design features that maintain the heritage and history of the former police station while enabling a fully functioning restaurant. He showed us the floor (yes, the floor) as one such feature that retained the historical character and yet created a functional space for a comfortable cafe and restaurant experience.
The original floor boards have been remain, but as office walls needed to be knocked down to create open dining areas, a dark timber was placed into the floor space, creating an outline of the former interior walls. In addition, each section now has a brass plate describing the former rooms official function. You can request to be seated in the former Detective Senior Sergeant’s Office area or the old Criminal Investigation Branch (C.I.B.) Interview Room section, for instance.
Opened to the public for the first time recently, the restaurant is sure to draw interest not just from locals, but is set to become a boutique hot spot for those wanting a different dining experience and top quality food. Those with a real taste for a different will have to wait a little longer: the former “Wet Cell” planned to become a private dining area and the larger holding cells are still in the process of being renovated.
As we enjoyed the our coffee, there was already an eclectic mix of people eating, working on laptops or simply walking in and asking could the look around. We bumped into a Chinese delegation of film makers scouting for film locations and two local artists hiding behind laptops and coffee cups:
- Cabaret artist, singer and actress Natasha York fine tuning PR details of her latest production The Desperettes showing at the The Toff; and
- Musical comedian, comedy writer and radio presenter Grant Busé preparing for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival performance of The Shuffle
Also looking around were several serving and former law enforcement officers. One was overheard remarking “I’m not going in there, it’s the Wet Cell…. I know exactly what went on in there.” Soon it will only be fine dining, good food, company and wine that the Coburg “Wet Cell” is renowned for.
Zoe also showed us around and said the place was becoming a mecca for serving and retired officers and their families, many keen to contribute mementos and even family share their family histories. The walls are fast becoming filled with a collection of police memorabilia.
“Before we opened the newspapers reported how we were going to retain the heritage of the station in the new restaurant. When people heard how true to the history of the station the new restaurant would be, the public just started to approach us and donate all kinds of things. Even the families of Police Officers that have now passed away, this was the right place to for a momentos of their loved one to be displayed.”
The Old Cop Shop Eatery and Beer Garden can be found in Melbourne’s north, at 160 Bell Street, Coburg. Follow on Facebook, email reservations to firstname.lastname@example.org and phone +61 3 9350 5955