Sydney converting disused toilets into cafes

These facilities are often in prime locations and have unique history

Published Mon, Apr 28, 2014 · 10:00 PM
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[SYDNEY] The Gardener's Lodge Cafe in Sydney's Victoria Park has polished wood floors, Aboriginal art on the walls and customers tucking into kangaroo-stout pies and sipping on macchiatos. All this betrays none of its past: The 125-year-old sandstone structure used to be a public toilet.

"It doesn't put me off, it just adds a bit of character to the place," Ben Andersen, 32, said over a cappuccino and apple crumble among the outdoor tables of the cafe, which was converted two years ago after three decades of disrepair. "I'd never have guessed it used to be a toilet."

Following a handful of such conversions over the past few decades, several more may be on the way. The City of Sydney this month adopted a Public Toilet Strategy that earmarked three more shuttered historic facilities. As spending at eateries grows at double the pace of all Australian retail sales amid worsening consumer confidence, the unused sandstone structures offer would-be restaurateurs prime locations with unique history.

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