Playing witness to moviegoers in the 1920s, band jam sessions in the 1980s and even a discounted cat supply store, Perth’s latest cafe and small bar about to open its doors has quite the story to tell.
Henry on Eighth on Maylands’ increasingly trendy Eighth Avenue is the brainchild of Steve Lavell. It’s his first hospitality venture after spending well over a decade as a corporate writer for the likes of the West Coast Eagles, the AFL and state government.
The hoardings on the Eighth Avenue shopfront belie the transformation that has been taking place inside. Photo: Angie Tomlinson
It’s been a two-and-a-half year road to this point where he takes down the plywood to reveal Henry on Eighth having grappled with the costs of renovating an old building and licensing compliance.
The building started life as the 1920s Lyric Theatre, the upstairs of the venue still bearing the legacy with three movie projection slots and art deco plasterwork.
When Lavell removed the tiers that used to house the cinema seats, he unearthed vintage Cherry Ripe packets and Peter’s ice cream buckets from past movie-goers.
The Maylands cafe and small bar is expected to open from 6am to midnight. Photo: Angie Tomlinson
Upstairs has also been home to dance classes, jam sessions, kickboxing and, until mid-2013, a residence.
“We are really looking forward to chatting to patrons that can tell us some of what’s gone on in this building over the years,” Lavell said.
Upstairs is stage two of the venue, initially used as some overflow seating and a prospective art exhibition space.
The premises that would become Henry on Eighth. Photo: Supplied
Chocolate and ice-cream wrappers found in the old cinema during construction. Photo: Supplied
Eventually the expansive light-filled warehouse at the front of the building will become “The Kings Above” – an 80-seat restaurant with open kitchen.
Street level though is where Henry on Eighth will make its debut with a European-style cafe and small bar, with a licence for 60 people and seating for 40. Lavell plans to open the premises from 6am to midnight.
“I don’t see us as a heaving bar on a Friday and Saturday night. We will be the kind of place pouring coffee until midnight,” Lavell said.
“I think there is a real gap in the market for late-night coffee with not much of that happening out this way.”
From a takeaway window and inside the cafe, Henry on Eighth will use beans from local coffee roasters Mano a Mano, as well as offering a day menu which includes buckwheat hotcakes, shashuka and a king sandwich until 3pm.
Steve Lavell has been collecting paraphernalia to decorate the walls for two years. Photo: Angie Tomlinson
The second level has been earmarked as an exhibition space and overflow seating. Photo: Angie Tomlinson
Lavell chose Henry on Eighth to get a name and an address in his venture’s name, but don’t get him wrong – he is no fan of the tyrannical king.
“We hate him. We are certainly not into that sort of man but he allowed us to have a name and a location in the name. Plus many of the venues around here have quite a pretty setting, but he has allowed us to bring it back the other way without being kitsch,” Lavell said.
Lavell has been collecting paraphernalia for two years to decorate the exposed brick walls, brick tooth openings and masculine black frames lit by vintage-style brass lights.
Henry VIII has lent his name to the business but no one is a fan of the tyrannical king, says Steve Lavell. Photo: Angie Tomlinson
Subtle references to “Henry” are dotted throughout. Some of the women in his life, Elizabeth I and Anne Boleyn, adorn the walls. A homage to Henry – from Henry Rollins to Henry Lawson – feature on Lavell’s “wall of Henrys”.
Artist Jodee Knowles’ impressive artwork on the side of the building features a woman holding a ferret – only the royals were allowed to own ferrets in Tudor times.
“Long live the king” adorns the walls from letters photographed in Nevada in a nod to Henry the Eighth’s notorious gambling.
A small stage sits in the corner where Lavell plans entertainment from poetry readings and story-telling to the occasional musician.
The bones of the old building have been celebrated rather than hidden, the original upstairs joists and floorboards are now the cafe and bar ceiling, an original steel beam marked Job 959 is laid bare and treads of the original staircase are now benches.
“It’s been an expensive but enjoyable exercise to renovate. As much as I love this building, I probably wouldn’t be fool enough to do it again,” Lavell said.
It is somewhat of a return to Maylands for Lavell, who was born, raised and now lives in the area.
“Some things haven’t changed in Maylands since I was delivering pizza as a teenager,” he said.
“There is such a great cross-section of people in the area. Maylands will never be in danger of losing its authenticity.”
- Henry on Eighth is opening soon at 49 Eighth Avenue, Maylands WA. Check the Facebook page for updates.
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