When I visited The Shed at its previous location in Forest Glen, it took me about 30 seconds to fall in love with the eclectic mix of old and new, vintage and modern, pretty and odd. I remember describing it as an Aladdin’s Cave of wonders.
So it was no wonder I felt the same sense of awe stepping through the doors at the new location in Palmwoods. In fact, it would be fair to say this new space was, well, even more breathtaking. The twist, however, was that this time, there was a waft of fresh cooked eggs benny and the tantalising aroma of coffee floating in the air as I entered the treasure trove. The Shed had had yet another upgrade, and now was home to a brand-new Bistro called Chew Chew.
Coast locals Geoff and Dianna Ryan took over the original ‘Shed’ in 2007. It was previously owned by Dianna’s parents and consisted mainly of antique furniture and second-hand goods. It is safe to say the business has not only had a few changes since the couple took the reins, it has also blossomed into something quite magical.
“We took over in 2007 when Dianna’s parents retired and put our own talents to good use growing the business into what it is today,” Geoff says.
With Dianna coming from a background in both retail and interior design, and Geoff having enjoyed a long and successful career in real estate, the couple slipped into their new roles at the helm of The Shed with ease.
“Since then, The Shed has certainly had a few moves and a lot of changes as we continued to grow,” Dianna says. “And due to the nature of the business, we found we needed to upgrade in size quite considerably to house all the varied furniture and stock items we sell.
“We found right from the beginning that people loved to spend time just browsing and looking at the unique and interesting items and we were constantly being told that we should have a coffee shop on site too so that people could sit and relax or just spend some time lingering,” she says.
“So, when we moved the business to a larger premises in Forest Glen in 2011, we added a coffee shop, and it was very popular. We had owned a fabulous little coffee shop in Buderim prior, in the first year after we got married about 29 years ago in fact, so the thought of expanding into hospitality wasn’t too daunting for us, and we both do love a challenge,” she laughs.
But it didn’t take long for the couple to realise something more substantial was in order.
“We were asked for meals and functions all the time by our customers,” Geoff says. “But we just didn’t have the right space for this at the time and so began the hunt once again to find new premises.”
Geoff and Dianna discovered a “fabulous” bank of old rundown railway sheds in Palmwoods under repair and fell
“The energy that emanated from the buildings was fabulous and perfect for our next step,” Dianna says. “What was originally planned to be just a larger version of the cafe in Forest Glen somehow morphed into a 60-seat licensed bistro with a private dining room and facilities to cater for larger functions,” she laughs. “While we had experience in hospitality, this was on another level, but in our usual style, we did our homework, put fear of the unknown aside and jumped in the deep end.”
And we are collectively grateful they did. The new Chew Chew Bistro boasts chic vintage decor and plush Chesterfield lounges, a quirky eclectic mix and a very special energy. Not to mention delicious treats, coffee and a range of dishes served up by chef Michael Borgnino, who has brought his own sense of flare and charm to the kitchen.
“Michael has an Italian heritage and 19 years’ experience working in both the trendy cafe scene and upmarket restaurants,” Dianna says. “He loves to cook traditional Italian food and modern Australian with an emphasis on using local fresh produce. His passion is to create and serve customers the freshest and most delicious food and he is constantly experimenting with new flavours to create new dishes to add to the menu.
“One of our personal favourites is the Mediterranean chilli mussels, literally a bowl full of the freshest SA mussels cooked in a white wine tomato and chilli salsa served with fresh sourdough on the side. Such a simple and beautiful dish, especially with a glass of Italian Stemmari pinot grigio.”
Patrons also come from far and wide for Michael’s eggs benny.“We constantly hear people comment that they are the best eggs benny that they have ever eaten, and we can’t help but agree,” Dianna says.
“Along with our fried chicken sandwich, these two would have to be our crowd pleasers.”
Chew Chew Bistro also caters for children with a delicious kids’ menu, as well as functions including cocktail parties and sit-down dinners.
“Then, coming later this year, we will be opening our garden area for weekend Texas-style barbecue food, drinks and live music,” Dianna says.
“We are all about offering our customers fabulous fresh local food with excellent service in a relaxed environment by the tracks. In fact, that’s where the name comes from. We were brainstorming names for the bistro and Chew Chew was a great play on words considering we are situated literally alongside the train tracks.”
And of course, The Shed retail store is filled with vintage and new homewares, furniture and jewellery, so take your time to enjoy it all. I sure did.
The Shed is at 3-5 Main Street, Palmwoods. 5479 6603 or theshedsca.com.au