Rowena Corner Store is a favourite nostalgic meeting spot for locals and visitors to the Richmond area.
It offers all the things you would expect from a traditional corner store, plus café-quality breakfast and lunch favourites.
The Richmond Hill store had always welcomed kids on their way to school, workers on their lunch break and footy crowds looking for half-time snacks and drinks.
Nicholas Kato is the head barista, chef and manager, who through a love of food and a connection to his Greek heritage has worked his way into the kitchen.
According to Kato, by the year 2000, the Rowena Corner Store had seen better days.
“After almost half a century of service the old girl was in need of some serious TLC. A ground-up renovation occurred and the modern era of the store began. Whilst holding true to its milkbar roots, the new store now had a clearer focus on wholesome food, great coffee and sensational milkshakes.”
This year Rowena Corner Store will be celebrating its 60th birthday. It is one of the longest running businesses is Richmond, and it has seen many changes over the years.
“Despite all the changes, we remain focused on the things that really matter to us – the people, delicious food, great coffee and sensational milkshakes are all there to provide an opportunity for people to connect, to share and to create magical memories together.”
Kato says they draw a lot of inspiration from their Greek heritage, incorporating recipes and flavours from the Mediterranean and the Middle East.
“I usually try recipes for friends, family and staff. I’ll put something on our specials a few times over a 12-week period and if the customers love it then it will find its way to the next menu,” says Kato.
“We try to source most of our produce locally and seasonally. Whether it’s our fruit and vegetables from Joe at Vic Markets, or Fiona from Hastings who supplies our free range eggs and honey.”
It was a decade ago that the masterminds behind Rowena asked a simple question: how do we create the perfect BLT?
Their answer- “getting the basics right is key. Artisan focaccia bread, prime cut eye bacon, crisp iceberg lettuce and fresh juicy tomatoes, and you’re well on your way. But the true BLT secret? The aioli – creamy, zingy and oh so addictive. Come in and try for yourself!
“For those moments when you need more, we add our 75g free-range, grain fed, farm-sourced eggs from Hastings. Avocado and cheese are other great additions. And for those not inclined to swine, they can get a tasty BLT experience vege-style with grilled haloumi instead of bacon,” explains Kato.
Another menu favourite is Kaski, from Northern Greece, which consists of red peppers cooked in a tomato reduction with fresh ricotta, feta cheese, and a hint of chilli. This is then served with Artisan focaccia dipping toast.
And for those who truly want an authentic Greek feed, it is hard to go past the Spanakopita, a traditional Greek spinach pita, which can be served with the Cypriot grain salad.
Rowena Corner Store are quite infamous for their milkshakes too. They use Vulcano Gelato, which is Melbourne made, to create classics and some more intense options. Some of the more original flavours include the Morning Alfred (double shot espresso), The Aussie (salted caramel with a kiss of vegemite), and even Sire Lamington. Then for those who still aren’t satisfied, they can go for a 7 Deadly Sins thickshake like in the above picture. They are more of a meal than a drink!
As Kato says, bringing back childhood memories is what Rowena Corner Store is great at, so you should be sure to go and reminisce for yourself.