The Empire Café (and deluxe burger bar) Mullumbimby has a certain style to it, as well as a lot of history.
The walls have been rendered, and here and there the render has been removed to reveal chunks of the old red brick walls of the old Simpson building that houses it. On the walls are black-and-white photos of historic, and iconic Mullumbimby scenes and street signs.
Historic cafe of Mullumbimby
There are booths, and wooden floors and old flags, and of course the cafe’s insignia is the Crown, recalling the days when the Empire Café stood proudly adjacent to the Empire Theatre cinema. According to Kevin Cork (see kythera-family.net) Anthony Peters/Pizimolas owned both the cafe and the cinema for some time in the period 1945–65 that he operated the cinema, with both establishments being known as ‘Peters’ to the local youth.
Of course the cafe has a history prior to 1945. According to The Aliens of the Tweed and Brunswick by Peter Tsicalas it is built almost on the site of the Carkagis’s cafe, the venue of a 1909 meeting that led to the formation of the Brunswick Heads Surf Life Saving Club. In 1911 that building was one of seven between Dalley Street and Mallams that was destroyed by fire, but when the Simpson’s building was rebuilt in 1912 the Carkagis re-established their cafe, now called the Empire, in almost the same position.
The Empire cinema, after intermittent screenings into the 1980s, was finally demolished in 1994, but the cafe survives.
That cafe, after numerous refurbishments, is still known as The Empire. Its beautiful oak floor, although it looks old, was in fact gifted to the cafe by the Uplift Festival; it was formerly the basketball court at the Byron Sports Centre.
The modern Empire
Current owners Iris and Heartmut Nauss have continued the tradition of keeping the cafe up with the times, serving a huge variety of deluxe burgers, and of course there’s a happy hour every Friday and Saturday 5–6pm serving frozen margaritas or the weekly special cocktail for $10, Stone & Wood beers for $6 and selected burgers, nachos and poutine for $10. A poutine is a dish based around chips covered in cheese curds with a gravy on top.
More info: The Empire, 20 Burringbar St Mullumbimby.
Open: Wed & Thu 10–4. Friday 10–9, Sat 9–9, Sun 9–3. Closed: Mon/Tues.
Owner Heartmut Nauss. There’s a certain hip style to The Empire; serving frozen margaritas during the Friday night happy hour.