Sue Melotte fell in love with the ramshackle old Cheddar House cheese factory in Moruya and has dedicated the past six years to restoring and renovating the heritage building. Now, 52 years after it closed, there’s life in the factory again with a craft brewery and cafe and bar up and running, and big plans for the rest of the space.
“We’re probably only using about half the building right now,” Sue told Region. ”But by the end of the year, we’ll open up a function room and then a cheese cave early next year.”
While Sue had initially planned to reintroduce a working cheese factory in the historic space, she realised that the possibility of cross-contamination between the beer yeasts and cheese yeasts was too high. So instead she’s planning a cheese cave, where she can purchase and then age cheeses from elsewhere on the coast and even from around the world.
Her plan was always to create something a little different from what you might expect to find in a South Coast town.
“There’s already four pubs and five or six cafes in town; we want to do something in the middle where it’s more of a chilled wine bar vibe on the weekends,” Sue said.
GraniteTown Cafe and Bar sits on a mezzanine level, looking out over the in-house brewery. Sue makes all the beers at Quantum Brewery, with a focus on European beers, particularly Belgian ones, which are notable for their malty characteristics rather than the strong, hoppy flavours typically found elsewhere. She says this makes them approachable to a wider audience.
“They’re very drinkable! I try to make beer for people who wouldn’t ordinarily drink beer.”
Food at the cafe runs all day, with a range of pizzas, cheese and charcuterie platters and snacks. Sue recommends the breakfast pizza, which comes with spinach and feta cheese, egg and hollandaise sauce.
Two accommodation units with access to a sauna and spa have been converted from the maturing rooms in the old cheese factory. Sue describes the building as a ”tardis” because the space is much bigger than it appears on the outside.
“It’s a magnificent building. I’ve kept one of the walls in the brewery just as it was so you can see what it would have looked like in its days as a cheese factory,” she explained.
“We’ve got a lot of memorabilia around as well, and it’s pretty cool talking to people when they come in and they’ve still got all these memories of the place from their grandparents.”
The function room opens up possibilities for long table lunches themed around the Quantum beers and the cheeses aged on site. The cooks at GraniteTown cafe and bar make as much as possible from scratch, and they’re keen to incorporate local ingredients and feature other local producers.
Ginger beer from Bodalla’s Malt Man Brewing is going on tap soon, and Sue is hoping to work with local makers as part of her vision to see the Artisan Factory as a collaborative hub of local food in the region.
Sue wants GraniteTown Cafe to be a place for locals, and says that the feedback so far has been incredible, with the neighbours in the residential area overwhelmingly supportive of the new space. Most of the initial inquiries about the project were concerned with whether or not she’d deliver her menu to houses across the street!
Sue says she couldn’t have finished this “labour of love” without their support.
The Moruya Artisan Factory is at 57 Hawdon Street, Moruya, NSW.
GraniteTown Cafe and Bar is open from 10:30 am to 6 pm Thursday to Sunday.
Visit the website to learn more, or follow them on Facebook or Instagram.