AN old police station in Bass has been transformed into a café which naturally sees people turning off their phones and turning to the person next to them to chat.
If you want to sit on your phone on social media the whole time, Paul’s Table is definitely not for you.
The café for the community opened last Thursday and everything’s just $2.50.
Barista-made coffee. Baked potato with kalesaw. Ham and tomato quiche. Muffins. Egg in a nest served with ham and tomatoes. All of it, just $2.50 per item and all homemade.
Ross and Tracey Denby aren’t in it for the money.
Instead, they say it’s about bringing people together.
“We don’t even need a sign up telling people to get off their phones because people naturally aren’t using them, it’s incredible,” says Ross.
“We’ve seen people form friendships while we’ve been making a coffee.”
The one long table in the café encourages people to converse with one another.
The table’s lined with paper so kids can draw to their hearts’ delight. Although adults have been seen drawing, too!
Guests are treated like family.
“The whole idea has been to invite people into our home,” says Tracey.
The café’s been two years in the making. Previously, it was set up at the Bass Hall. Now they’re at 1-3 Hade Avenue, Bass.
You can’t miss it. They’ve lovingly restored the building both inside and out.
It was the Bass Police Station, before it was turned into a home, and now into a welcoming café.
It’s been a labour of love, with blood, sweat and tears, for Ross and Tracey.
The property settled just over two years ago on June 30, 2017.
And ever since they’ve been hard at work bringing the property into the modern age.
One important point that sticks out for both of them is the incredible generosity from the local community.
“We came home one day to find a pumpkin on our front veranda,” says Tracey.
“Another time a lady from near Dandenong dropped off some wine and produce while we were out because she just loved what we do here.”
Plus, during the building renovation, locals helped out with painting and fencing.
“Everyone’s been so friendly and helpful,” says Ross.
“We love this regional community, we love Bass.
“We’re about the community, we’re very passionate about people with disability being in an environment where they can be with the rest of the community.”
Paul’s Table is named after their son, Paul, who had a disability. He passed away in 1999.
“The table represents sitting around a table and getting to know each other.”
Before the café, Ross and Tracey lived in Myanmar (Burma) – next to Thailand – for two and a half years, helping out the local community.
That was until the government thought they were spies and politely asked them to leave.
Ross says many people in Myanmar lived in shacks, but they were so much happier without all of the possessions that we chase in Australia.
On Thursdays and Fridays, Paul and Tracey are offering $2.50 coffees in the morning from 7.30am-9am during winter.
“We’re all about eating in, but we decided to do the morning coffee because it’s a good introduction to let people know what we’re all about,” says Tracey.
“You’ve got to bring your own cup or purchase one of our re-usable cups so we don’t have any waste at all.
“It’s purely coffee from 7.30am to 9am, no food.”
And then from 9am to 3pm on Thursdays and Saturdays is the café where you can grab a bite to eat and a cup of coffee, while enjoying the view out onto the Woolamai hills.
Paul’s Table at Bass is a Café for the community