Cafe gets heritage refurbishing

ABBIE NAPIER
Last updated 05:00 23/01/2014
Chris Penny, Yasmeen Clark and Jonathan Spark
JOHN KIRK-ANDERSON/Fairfax NZ
OLD GALS: Yasmeen Clark, Jonathan Spark and Chris Penny will run Hello Sunday cafe.

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Restoring a heritage building from the 1800s takes not only grit and hard work, but a vision and commitment to make the old beautiful once again.

Jonathan Spark, Yasmeen Clark and Chris Penny are restoring two such buildings in Sydenham, converting them into a lifestyle business and a cafe.

The Sydenham Baptist Church on Elgin St has sketchy origins, the neighbouring cafe, even more so. The two quaint wooden buildings date back to before the turn of the 20th century.

The Sunday school was possibly a post office in the central city in the 1870s before being moved to the current site. It was used by the community until it was sold in the early 1900s and is believed to be one of the oldest buildings left in Christchurch post-quake.

Once loved, over the years the buildings have fallen into disrepair and were being used by backpackers of questionable hygiene when Spark, Clark and Penny signed the lease.

"There was a waft of body odour, alcohol, tobacco and dope coming out of it," Spark said. "It took us six days just to clear it out."

Spark and Clark have been running their lifestyle business Pascha, in the main church building since 2012.

These days, it's the restoration of the Sunday school which is taking up their time and energy. In April last year they submitted plans to the council to convert the school into a cafe with a full kitchen in a shipping container and a rear courtyard.

By the beginning of November they had consent and got stuck into the restoration. It required extensive repairs including the rebuild of one wall, as well as preservation of the building's character - cornices, plaster moulding, and timber floors.

At this stage, they hope the cafe, dubbed Hello Sunday as a nod to the building's past, will be open by the end of February.

Cafe manager Chris Penny said Hello Sunday would be about the community.

"It's about having people come in and feel well taken care of," he said. "The number of people who have already come up to us to thank us for restoring the building is incredible."

The food will be contemporary but rustic, with former Dux Dine chef Sam Stewart leading the culinary team. Switch Espresso will be providing the caffeine.

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