Change is on the way at The Wedge

Shirleys Café and Bar owners Jason Hughes and Patrick Barry with Wellington Shire Council Mayor Ian Bye (left). Photos: Contributed

WELLINGTON Shire Council says the future of The Wedge Performing Arts Centre’s food and beverage offering is in safe hands, as they finalise an agreement with new operators.

Jason Hughes and Patrick Barry have a combined 45 years of hospitality and business experience, and are excited to bring their abilities to The Wedge in Sale.

The pair are award winning caterers, recognised at the Savour Australia Restaurant and Catering Awards.

They have been friends for more than 20 years, and have a passion for hospitality, great food, outstanding coffee and good customer service.

When asked about the future of The Wedge café, Mr Hughes and Mr Barry said they were looking forward to unveiling their new business and getting to know the dedicated locals who love their brunch, coffee, and dinner as much as they do.

“We inspire to create a positive, fun, vibrant, and always funny atmosphere. We have really high energy and are always bouncing off of each other,” they said.

“Our previous café and bar, Shirley’s in Golden Beach, became a hub for locals and visitors to enjoy in a really short time, and we are very proud of the work we did to connect with the community through hospitality. We are privileged to call our many customers friends for life, and we can’t wait to meet more of the community in Sale.”

Their vision is to create a safe space where everyone is welcome, and where great food, coffee and service is paramount to creating the atmosphere locals and visitors deserve.

“Our vision is simple, to create a place to go to feel at home,” they said.

The community can expect the new café and bar to bring a lively atmosphere and develop a strong tie with programs and events happening at The Wedge.

The café will re-open today, to the hundreds of visitors attending Chocolate Starfish – Bat Out of Hell at The Wedge’s John Leslie Theatre.

For the first few weeks, the new operators will spend time getting to know their patrons and fine-tuning operations, ready to re-open fully for a new era of food and beverage at The Wedge on February 24.

Shirleys Café and Bar owners Jason Hughes and Patrick Barry discussing plans for the new-look café within The Wedge with Wellington Shire Council Mayor, Ian Bye.

The café plans to operate Wednesday to Sunday each week until Mr Hughes and Mr Barry have secured a strong team of hospitality professionals to help them.

Patrons who have tickets to an event at The Wedge before February 24 will still get the full experience, with shows from comedian Arj Barker and Australian band The Whitlams set to fill the café space during this time.

Wellington Shire Mayor, Ian Bye, said that with The Wedge Performing Arts Centre season launch just around the corner, securing a new operator who has experience and a passion for arts and culture was council’s key priority.

“I am excited to share this announcement with the community,” Cr Bye said.

“We listened to their feedback following the announcement that the previous operators had chosen not to renew their agreement, and we are positive that the community will love what is to come.

“I have spoken to Jase (Jason Hughes) and Pat (Patrick Barry), and they can’t wait to get stuck into it, we are all really looking forward to continuing with a great hospitality service and welcoming the many visitors who are no doubt as excited as us to try the new menu!

“I am looking forward to joining the community at the 2023 season launch to officially welcome the new team, and to celebrate the next chapter of the wonderful community facility that we have at The Wedge Performing Arts Centre.”

“This year’s program of events has something for everyone, continuing to build a community that is happy, connected and engaged in arts and culture throughout our municipality.

“The season features work from a broad selection of artists and genres, including music, cabaret, dance, drama, physical theatre, and stand-up comedy to name a few.

“On behalf of my fellow councillors, I can’t wait for you to experience it.”

The community is encouraged to follow The Wedge on Facebook, to stay up to date with opening hours and any temporary changes to operations.

Following The Wedge’s 2023 season official launch on February 24, the café will be open and offering brunch and dinner from 10am, as well as pre and post-show offerings.

Wellington Shire Council thanked previous operators Molly and Jim Inglis and their staff for their wonderful and dedicated service over the past five years, and congratulated the new team, wishing them luck as they launch their new business alongside The Wedge Performing Arts Centre.

If you are keen to join Jason and Patricks’s new team, email your resume to info@shirleyscafe.com.au.

Experience is preferred, but not essential.