Where history meets coffee

THE OPPORTUNITY to work in a beautiful historic building was just too good to pass up for local proprietors Julian and Alison Cousins.

Twelve months ago the pair launched the Mill House Courtyard Cafe in the distinctive heritage-listed building at the corner of Collett and Morriset Street.

Formerly a private residence the ground floor was transformed into a small cafe at the rear with an extra seating area in the open courtyard.

The building's two front rooms now also houses a library of second-hand books for patrons to peruse and purchase.

"It's always been a dream of mine I guess to open something of my own," Julian, 27 said.

"The Mill House came on the market and we were fortunate enough to purchase it. There's nothing like this in Canberra so it's good to be able to work in something with so much history attached."

With its long history the Mill House which was built in 1883 as the manager's residence for the neighbouring flour mill is certainly a talking point with customers. It has also been included as one of the pit stops on local author Nichole Overall's Mysterious Queanbeyan by Moonlight tours.

"It's interesting having older customers come in and remember when they were (last) here," Julian said. "A lot of people have their own stories about the Mill House from when they were younger."

Although Julian has had previous experience managing cafes, the beauty of being the owner is being able shape your business the way you like it. The pair is happy with the current cafe set up, but they're slowly introducing other elements, including live music and art works.

"I want to focus on coffee and light meals rather than something fancy like fine dining. I want something I can run during the day, six days a week," Julian said.

"Our aim is to create a friendly, family environment somewhere you can bring the dog along on the weekend. I'd like to do gallery shows or something eventually ... we're playing it by ear at the moment."

Alison, 20, said the house lent itself to being a cosy and homely spot.

"We want to create a space where customers feel welcome," she said. "When they sit inside and we have the fireplace lit in winter we want it to feel like their own house."

The Mill House Courtyard Cafe is located at 57 Collett Street. It is open for breakfast and lunch six days and closed on Tuesday.

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