Nine years ago, an abandoned auction house stood in the suburbs of North Melbourne: large, empty and lifeless.
Now, a sign swings from the door, and a wide array of customers sip their coffee and soak in the rustic ambiance.
Welcome to Auction Rooms, the brunch spot where the old WB Ellis Auction House used to be. Manager Tarn Fisher greets me at the door, and takes me through the history of how this old auction house was given new life in the form of an industrial-chic cafe.
Care for a cuppa?
About nine years ago, when everyone saw the place as empty, Andrew Kelly saw opportunity. Local architecture firm 6 Degrees was brought in, chosen specifically for their specialty in repurposing, to breathe new life into the old auction house.
They were most careful to retain the stripped back rustic look – that industrial-chic interior has after all become part of the charm, and the walls and facade continue to proudly display their history.
However their exterior walls are now painted blue, and their homewares boast the same bright blue that create a sharp cheery contrast to the otherwise neutral look.
Here a barista showcases his latte art skills, flanked by the bright blue cups and plates.
As Auction Rooms pride themselves on sustainability, old PVC pipes were given new life as they now hang from the ceiling, forming unique chandeliers.
With a countryside feel that contrasts the bustling city, it’s no wonder that tourists and locals alike enjoy dropping by for coffee and brunch.
Older customers now often come in to reminisce and recall fond memories of the auction house, marvelling the transformation that the place has undergone.
While customers come in to admire the architecture, they stay for the coffee.
Tarn describes how Auction Rooms invested much time in their passion.
We started with coffee. We had a high focus and drive on producing the best coffee. We were constantly reexamining and pushing ourselves in how we roast our coffee.
Auction Rooms’ signature house blend is the candyman espresso, a mixture of cherry and chocolatey blend which can be catered to whichever way you enjoy your coffee (I personally like mine with plenty of milk and sugar – the baristas didn’t turn up their noses at me thankfully!).
Cover it in chocolate and a miracle or two? The candy man can…
All Melburnians are obsessed with knowing where their coffee beans are sourced from. Tarn explains that their coffee beans are generally sourced from one particular area. Today’s coffee of the day hailed from Ethiopia.
“You can buy some beans home if you like it,” Tarn offers, gesturing to the wall at the far end. They have bags of beans and an array of cups and tumblers to fulfill your 5am caffeine cravings.
As the coffee beans have chalked many air miles to reach this cafe in North Melbourne, Auction Rooms are careful to source all their other ingredients locally.
The beans fly a long way to get to us so we like to source as local as possible, to celebrate what Victoria has to offer.
Indeed, the menu reflects the constantly changing seasons, heralding the signs of either warm sunshine or cool gusts of winds. This allows customers enjoy something different every time they return.
I arrived at 4pm unfortunately, at a time when the kitchens had closed (Auction Rooms opens till 5pm). At least the pastries were still available, a mouthwatering array of fluffy baked goods.
On the ever-changing menu, only a couple of items remain classics, such as the banana and walnut bread and the slow poached eggs (they’re cooked at precisely 63 degrees. Talk about commitment.)
Part of our whole idea is to keep progressing and changing and adapting so people come every few months and can order something new.
And sustainability is also something that boils over from their architectural desires to their culinary plates. Their food waste is broken down into compost and sent back to farms where they get food from, completing the cycle of harvesting from the earth.
Whether you come in to taste their ever-changing menu, or sip their candyman classics, Auction Rooms’ dedication to beans is certainly what makes it every bidder’s choice.
103 – 107 Errol Street, North Melbourne
(03) 9326 7749
Mon – Fri: 7am – 5pm
Sat – Sun: 7:30am – 5pm
This piece is available thanks to Tarn and the team at Auction Rooms. Massive thanks to their efforts. All opinions are my own.
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