Hellenic meets classic Aussie country at this playful Crookwell café.
It is the fate of the theatres that were once the centre of community life in many old country towns to fall into disrepair and disuse, but Crookwell’s Crown Theatre is lucky to have been repurposed in a way that pays homage to its past. The big theatre space at the back of the building has been filled with three stories of play equipment for children, while a café at the front provides delicious treats for everyone to enjoy.
The theatre was built in 1926 and held 500 people per screening in its heyday. In the late 90s and early 2000s it became the home of the local youth centre, and in 2014 the Topalidis family breathed new life into the building when they opened the Crown Theatre Café.
Plastered all over the walls of the café are old news stories about the theatre’s past and photographs of hordes of happy Crookwell locals all dressed up for a night of socializing and escapism at the movies.
These days happy kids shriek and laugh as they play on the three stories of equipment, zipping down slides and getting lost in the ball pit, while their parents chat over a coffee and meal, catching up on all the latest news and gossip.
In winter the indoor seating area is kept warm and comfortable by the presence of two tall upright gas heaters while in summer there is an outdoor seating area, with a good view of the comings and goings on the main street.
The flavours of the food are informed by the Topalidis’s Greek heritage, with baklava on the dessert menu and ouzo being available as a digestif. The menu is truly extensive, with a classic country-style selection of pies, pastries and other baked goods, as well as cooked breakfasts, pizza, burgers, salads and chips. Everything is fresh, well made, and of generous portion sizes, while the coffee comes with a delicious ginger biscuit.
Chrys and John Topalidis have done an exceptional job of ensuring that this historical building continues to be a centre of community life in Crookwell, and it is well worth a stop for anyone who happens to be passing through the town.
Crown Theatre Hotel is located at 132 Goulburn St, Crookwell, NSW. Call (02) 4832 2298 for more information.