Born in the midst of the Great Depression, Shingle Inn is more than just a business; it’s a fascinating part of Australia’s, and more specifically Brisbane’s, local history with a unique story to share.
In the Autumn of 1936 David Webster and Sons built the original Shingle Inn on Edward Street in Brisbane as part of their large chain of cafés, with a vision for Shingle Inn to be an elegant English style teahouse and restaurant – one that would be renowned for its quality products and keen sense of style. Shingle Inn quickly developed an enviable reputation with locals, and the venue became a busy landmark, with queues to buy the famous cakes regularly stretching out the door and around the corner. In the early 1970s, Shingle Inn was facing abandonment, but in 1975 the Bellchambers family, who continue to operate Shingle Inn, took ownership.
Many years later, on a cool winter’s night in Edward Street, Brisbane on August 3 2002, Shingle Inn closed its doors to the city that had shown it only love and loyalty since its first day of trading in the Autumn of 1936 for the last time.
The Bellchambers family had been forced to shut up shop due to redevelopment. The city of Brisbane was devastated, and the decision was made to keep the spectacular interior in storage until their beloved restaurant could be reopened, ensuring every detail of the fit-out was catalogued and photographed when the time came to put the pieces back together.
On June 4 2010, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed, gifting the original store fit-out to the people of Brisbane, to be restored within another Brisbane icon, City Hall, allowing future generation to experience the grandeur of Shingle Inn.
Original components of the salvaged Shingle Inn featured at Brisbane City Hall include:
- Booth tables and seating
- Timber veneer wall panelling
- Shingle cladding and leadlight windows – where the Shingle Inn got its name from!
- The mock Tudor timberwork, including decorated timber ceiling beams and half timbering to walls.
- Refurbished wall and ceiling mounted light fittings
Modern Day Tastes Meet Traditional Favourites
The decadent Shingle Inn products which have been devoured by so many over the decades are still produced today.
“It is an important part of the tradition to provide the freshest quality products to our clients, and our ability to continue to provide exceptional products is paramount in determining our growth,” says Shingle Inn Co-Director Andrew Bellchambers.
“City Hall is the perfect location for the restoration of the historic café; where we can continue our long-standing tradition of producing our iconic Patty Cakes, delicious coffee, innovative cakes and decadent sweet treats, as well as our extensive freshly prepared lunch menu.”
Very few changes have been made to the range because of its popularity, but some products have been very much influenced by our city’s journey through time, especially during the war years.
“Back in the early 1940s, the Shingle Inn café introduced lemon meringue pies to its menu to cater for the American World War II soldiers who were visiting the café and searching for a piece of home,” explains Andrew.
Another of the most famous items on the menu would have to be the BSW – butterscotch waffle with icecream, smothered in caramel sauce – of which nearly one thousand were sold each week. These waffles were baked using the original waffle irons imported from the US during the Second World War, to cater for the tastes of American troops who frequented the tea house. The original recipe is still in use, allowing customers of today to enjoy the popular foods of Shingle Inn’s past. To read more about Shingle Inn’s history, please download our e-book, Celebrating a Brisbane Icon.