A quaint railway building in Middle Park now houses a social enterprise cafe serving Five Senses coffee and healthy plant-based foods while training young people so they can escape homelessness.
For Change Co moved into the tiny plank structure in May after signing a three-year lease with building owner Yarra Trams.
Located on the route 96 streetcar line, it has 12 indoor seats and a terrace overlooking Albert Park. Cafe Mart 130 previously occupied the building until it was damaged by fire in February 2018.
At For Change, diners can choose from bircher muesli with blueberry compote, homemade pastries, fried cauliflower and baba ghanoush rolls, or corn and jalapeno fritters with black rice. One of the staff hospitality professionals sharing their skills is Matteo’s former sous chef, Ross Eckersley.
Interns spend between six and eight months working in For Change Co cafes before being supported to find permanent employment, whether in hospitality or another field.
“Employment and all that goes with it – trust, community building – is key to keeping them out of the cycle of long-term homelessness,” says Tenille Gilbert, CEO of For Change Co.
The nonprofit, established in 2015, runs five other social enterprises around Melbourne, from coffee carts to cafes, and will add another in the northern suburbs by spring. Middle Park Café increases the number of places available for interns by 30%.
Gilbert says focusing on plants is another way to invest in the future of young people by not contributing to food-related carbon emissions. The cafes do not use gas and also compost their waste.
Open daily 8am-2.30pm, Middle Park Light Rail Station, Canterbury Road, Middle Park, forchangeco.com.au