The Wayside Café has been providing low-cost meals and beverages in a warm, relaxed and friendly environment since 1966. The Café is the busiest and most liveliest part of Wayside, with people from all walks of life coming together for a meal, a coffee or simply to spend time in a safe place where they’re welcome just ‘to be’.
The Café has become a place where socio-economic barriers between people are completely broken down, where the mentality of “us and them” simply becomes “us” and where you can sometimes find a local politician and a local homeless man having lunch together like they’re old friends.
While the Café's meals are not free, they are extremely affordable. This is consistent with the greater Wayside mentality of a hand up rather than a handout.
The Café provides pathways into employment. When ready, visitors can become volunteers in the Café and train in cooking, food preparation and business operations. Valuable work experience helps participants on the road to paid employment.
Since moving into the new building last July, the Café has gone from strength to strength with a 63% increase in the number of items served to visitors. We are now averaging 7,900 items sold per month. We have improved the quality, nutritional value and diversity of meal options, with meals now being prepared onsite daily using fresh ingredients.
The Café is open from 9am to 7.30pm Monday to Friday, 9am to 4pm Saturday and 11am to 4pm Sunday. The menu is diverse and provides a range of healthy meals and light snacks.
An invitation into community
Everybody is welcome to visit the Wayside Café. In fact, our visitors are so extraordinarily diverse that it is hard to imagine that such a place could possibly exist anywhere else in the world. From rough sleepers to travelling musicians, from painters to politicians, from those looking for some friendly conversation to those just looking for a quiet place to rest, all are welcome and very few leave without feeling uplifted and inspired.
Our Café wouldn’t survive without the commitment from volunteers. If you're interested in doing a weekly or fortnightly shift, come to a monthly volunteer information night to find out what it’s all about. See the Volunteering page for more information.
The Wayside Cafe is supported with financial assistance from the Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation. The Café is also supported by Michael Steele, Pacific West Foods, PFD, Fratelli Fresh, Fresca Bakery, Toby's Estate and Harris Farm Markets .