RARE OPPORTUNITY: Our daily bread cafe is up for sale.
RARE OPPORTUNITY: Our daily bread cafe is up for sale. CONTRIBUTED

The holiest of renovations up for sale

OWNERS of a popular Arty cafe in a converted Broadwater church have confessed they're selling-up because the retirement project simply "became too big."

Turning the 80-year-old Catholic church into Our Daily Bread cafe was a three-and-a-half year labour of love for Alannah Hovard and her partner David Cowgill.

The couple purchased St Columbkille's in 2009 and despite not having hospitality experience knew its Pacific Highway-location was ideal for a cafe.

Officially opening its doors six and a half year ago, Our Daily Bread now operates as a cafe seven days per week from 9am to 3:30pm and also features Alannah's collection of Mid 20 Century pottery and ceramics.

"It was our retirement project, and it became something bigger than expected," the archivist and history lover said.

"We employ half a dozen staff in the cafe and the retail business is continuing to grow.

"Due to impending family commitments, we have decided to sell and downsize."

Looking back, Alannah said renovating the large church took hard work and true commitment.

"The first step was getting approval for the renovation, which took 18 months, followed by 18 months of physical labour," she said.

"The building hadn't been used since 2003 and was completely derelict. There was peeling paint, broken glass, and no water."


Our daily bread cafe up for sale.
The Broadwater church was derelict when the couple purchased it in 2009. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

They worked daily with a young man who sanded the building back to bare boards, while they painted and any intact glass was moved to the front of the building, and similar glass sourced for the back.

Town water and septic had to be installed. Internal work included adding a loft and stairs, as well as building the cafe. They have also added a 100sqm verandah, toilets, and a parents' room.

Underneath, they replaced 100 ant caps, which involved lifting every pier. About six piers needed repositioning, but Allanah said, despite the building's age, it was very sturdy.

"(The area) is a floodplain, and the soil here is sand, so it's a really sturdy foundation for a big building like this," she said.

"It sits on one acre of land."

After being quoted $60,000 for renovations, they did it themselves, restoring the building and designing/building the kitchen, loft, bathroom, verandah and all the landscaping. From inside the sanctuary, they took scaffolding to the roof, nailed it to the rafters, and removed seven ceiling boards to get to the tile. It took a whole weekend.


Our daily bread cafe up for sale.
Internal work included adding a loft and stairs and building the cafe. CONTRIBUTED

"Employing someone to do the renovations would have been easier, but the cost was prohibitive," she said.

"I would say we've done a million-dollar renovation if you were paying for someone to do (it).

"I'm not a young woman, so things like doing this heavy work are quite difficult. But you just do it."

While there was always more to do, Alannah said restoring the building has been gratifying, especially when nuns from the former church visit.

"They love coming in here, they love what we have done, and they love the name of the cafe," she said.

"Just to hear their love for this old building and know that we have done something to it and made it a public space again, that's probably the most important thing to me."

She said, with council approval the building could be converted to a residence, restaurant, function centre, recording studio (great acoustics), or what ever took potential buyers fancy.

"The building being heritage listed has been an asset because of the approach taken by council as they were concerned the building would remain neglected and be lost to the community, all changes requested were approved," she said.

"Heritage inspectors stated from the beginning that they understood changes would be needed for the building to be converted from a church and were looking to try and keep the integrity of the building while allowing changes for a new use.

"There is a council approved two story shed comprising two 40 foot shipping containers fixed to concrete footings which presently functions as a workshop and additional storage.

"A development application has been approved by council to build a three bedroom, three story residence connected to the church." 

First National Byron Paddy Commercial Agent Paddy Wallington said because the property was not something that can be easily compared, they would be looking for expressions of interest.

For history of the building, inclusions or the many specific improvements made to the property and any enquiries through to Mr Wallington on 0436 684 145.

Our Daily Bread Cafe is located at 194 Pacific Highway, Broadwater NSW 2474.