It’s been a pub, a brothel and an art gallery. But the latest transformation of Cromwell Manor in Collingwood may be its most revolutionary.

The 150-year-old heritage site has now reopened its doors as an 80-seat cafe, bakery and state-of-the-art coffee roastery run by STREAT, a social enterprise tackling youth homelessness by training and supporting disadvantaged young people.

It has a seasonal menu designed by Melbourne Zoo’s former head chef Di Kerry, and a world-class bakery funded by Deyrick Upton of Breadsolutions. Founder and CEO Rebecca Scott says STREAT has come a long way since the coffee carts it started with.

In 2013 philanthropist Geoff Harris leased the Cromwell site to STREAT for $5 a year for the next 50 years.

“Every day I walk in here and pinch myself,” Scott says. “Just to see the phenomenal diversity of people walking in the door as customers. As much as we exist to stop youth homelessness and disadvantage, the engine of our whole enterprise is good food and coffee.”

At Cromwell STREAT all coffee is roasted on-site and the aromas of freshly baked bread and croissants drift across the courtyard long into the morning. A $3.5 million redesign by Six Degrees has brought new life to the space (financed through philanthropic support, crowdfunding and a $2.5 million joint loan from NAB and Social Ventures Australia).

There’s plenty of history left behind, too. The original brick walls still stand, stained with soot from the chimneys, and some of the more colourful characters from Cromwell’s past are immortalised on the menu. One popular drink is Immoral Irene’s Gin Screwdriver, so named for a local woman who once made headlines at Cromwell Manor for “carrying on with a sailor”.

Since it started in 2010, STREAT has trained more than 520 disadvantaged youth in hospitality across five cafe sites in Melbourne. Thanks to Cromwell’s additional training academy, the enterprise will now be able to help 365 young people each year.

Executive chef Kerry says it’s “heart warming” to watch trainees serving their first meals to customers.

“Of course, that’s the icing on the cake. First of all, we aim to be a really good cafe in Collingwood.”

Cromwell STREAT
66 Cromwell Street, Collingwood

Hours:
Mon to Fri 7am–4pm
Sat & Sun 8am–4pm