COMMUNITY spirit is alive and well in Perenjori – in fact it’s well and truly buzzing since the local café opened its doors in July last year.
The Wheatbean Café is the town’s beloved café, established by the local community, staffed by locals and it was even named by a local resident.
While locals also make up the consistent portion of the Wheatbean’s customers, according to Perenjori Community Resource Centre (CRC) manager Ally Bryant, the café is a popular destination for tourists visiting the area.
Ally said the dream to open a café at the Perenjori CRC started in 2013, when the CRC management committee began the process, which then took a further three and a half years to complete.
Part of the process included securing grants through the Department of Regional Development and the Shire of Perenjori’s Mt Gibson Public Benefit Trust.
Ally said the main priority with the café was to provide the small community with a place where they could sit, have a coffee and enjoy each other’s company.
“I took over management of the CRC in March of 2016 and oversaw the renovations and the opening of our café on July 4, 2016,” Ally said.
“I was extremely proud to see the doors open for the first time and to hear all the positive feedback from that time on.
“Tourists have also become a very important part of our business and we are becoming well-known for our friendly staff and great coffee.”
Prior to its opening, the CRC held a competition to name the café, with Perenjori residents encouraged to enter their suggestion for the best name.
“We had some amazing names entered and the committee had a tough time picking the winning name,” Ally said.
“After a vote the ‘Wheatbean’ was the winner and Sarah Gilleland was the local resident who had the privilege of knowing that the name she picked would be the new name of our café.
“She won a free coffee per day for the first month.
“As we are a big farming region and wheat is our largest produce, I feel the name really suits the café.”
Also reflective of the region and injecting some colour into the café is a large, vibrant flower mural on one of the café’s walls, painted by talented local artist, Christina Laue.
Getting down to serious caffeine-related business, the Wheatbean is using Rosie’s Blend of arabica coffee beans from Café Corporate, roasted here in WA.
Ally admitted that it was initially quite overwhelming trying to decide which coffee to go with, but they gladly accepted the advice from Café Corporate, who also supplied the café’s coffee machine.
“Everybody loved it and I know I’m prejudice, but I haven’t had a coffee anywhere as nice as ours,” she said.
Food-wise, the Wheatbean offers a range of cakes, muffins and slices which all team perfectly with a coffee, as well as a variety of more substantial menu items such as sushi and rice paper rolls in summer and in winter, a soup of the day.
The ‘Turkish Toasties’, toasted sandwiches made from Turkish bread, are the most popular item on the Wheatbean’s menu.
“The majority of our food is made in our café and we strive to produce healthy tasty food for our customers to enjoy,” Ally said.
“We are very fortunate to have two talented local girls who are brilliant cooks, working for us.”
Despite the tasty treats being churned out of the café’s kitchen, it’s modest size has proven to be somewhat of a challenge.
As Ally explained, the café was designed with the expectation that it would predominately be offering little more than coffee and cake.
“Now we do lunches and catering we have had to put extra cupboards in for storage and we have built a decking out the front of the café so that we can fit more patrons,” she said.
“It has definitely exceeded our expectations.
“Not long after opening the district saw its best wild flower season in a long time, this brought a lot of business to the café.
“We have so many locals that come every day for their coffees but we also do a lot of local catering for different events.”
With the final renovations recently completed, the Wheatbean now has a decking area for alfresco dining, as well as extra storage space inside, so the café is well-prepared for undoubtedly a long and well-supported future.
“It has been so rewarding seeing how much the community love the café and seeing the regular gatherings of different groups of people,” Ally said.
“We have given the community a much-needed social gathering point and have created more employment for the district.”