10 years old

Anniversary for Sycamore Tree Coffee Shop

VICKI AMIGUET reports on the celebration of a milestone for a Burgundy St landmark.

The Sycamore Tree Coffee Shop in Burgundy Street Heidelberg celebrates an important milestone- its 10th birthday- this month. But over the years it has served up a lot more than coffee and cake to its customers.

The shop is operated by Scots Uniting Church as a part of its outreach program and is used as a drop in centre by many local lonely and isolated people. It is also a haven for family and relatives of patients in the nearby Austin and Repatriation hospitals.

Ruth Watson has been part of shop since it opened, working as a volunteer for seven months before taking on the position of supervisor which is shared by Rae Officer.

Mrs Watson believes the shop has played an important role in the community over the years as while they do not provide professional counselling the staff are always willing to lend a sympathetic ear to the customers.

Over the years they have built up a regular clientele and some of these people have been invited to the birthday dinner in the shop on August 6. One guest is a 75 year-old man who used to come into the shop with his brother two or three times a week and then two years ago his brother died but the man still comes by himself for a coffee and a chat.

“We are expecting about 50 people to attend the dinner, from people involved in establishing the shop to volunteers and customers,” Mrs Watson said.

Apart from the two paid supervisors, the shop, which is open from 10am-4pm Monday-Friday, is run by about 30 volunteers who give between two and four hours of their time each week.

The menu offers morning and afternoon teas and light lunches including soup, pies, salads, quiches, and toasted sandwiches.

Any profits the coffee shop makes are poured back into the community and during the past 10 years $12,000 has been donated to local schools and charities.

Mrs Watson said she was delighted to have been part of the shop for 10 years and believes it has a “special feeling” about it.

“As we are situated next to Scots Church we are often dubbed the ‘God Shop’ but we get lots of favourable comments about the warm atmosphere and the friendly staff. One volunteer has even written a poem about how important the shop is to her and this is being published in our church newspaper,” she said.


The Paper – August 1996