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Story

Loving the 1950s heart and soul of
Cliffy’s Emporium

Back in the 1950s, Cliffy Hauser’s general store in Daylesford was famous for an extraordinary range of produce, groceries and farm supplies crammed into a rustic timber and corrugated iron building.

Fast forward more than 60 years, and the heart and soul of this legendary store have been lovingly preserved. Farmers still drop into Cliffy’s Emporium with fresh fruit and vegetables, the old timber shelves are full of local produce, mineral water and preserves, while specialty groceries are chosen from near and far.

Cliffy’s has also become one of the region’s best known cafes. Locals sometimes drop in two or three times a day for exceptional coffee, while visitors love pulling up a stool at one of the original long timber counters or sitting outdoors under the shade of the verandah and grapevines. The old bike shop next door has become part of Cliffy’s café, with comfortable seating and tables and a really cosy fireplace.

Local produce including cheese, meat, eggs, oil, honey and preserves star on the menu - think eggs with sides including roasted sumac tomatoes and marinated roast mushrooms, or the go-to charcuterie plate featuring local cured meats, cheese, olives and pickled vegetables. Baskets of freshly picked fruit and vegetables on the counter will quickly inspire you for your own dinner that evening - grab a pack of Italian pasta, some fresh produce, paté, cheese, a bottle of regional wine and a loaf of locally baked bread. What more could you want?

And true to Cliffy’s fame as a ‘general merchant’, the emporium is stocking a growing range of kitchen products that have been made with great care and attention to detail, such as hand-made millet brooms from Tumut, hand-crafted kitchen ware and a small range of ceramics.

Cliffy’s has that rare character and history that welcomes you to a warm, homely place. The old signs promoting Bushell’s coffee and Cadbury Cocoa still adorn the windows. The ceiling-high timber shelves, many with Cliffy’s indecipherable scribbles, are still reached by an old ladder. Wooden floors have mellowed with age, and the two timber counters that run along either side of the café bear the marks of countless grocery transactions.

Attentive service is happily old style too, with locals working on the floor and in the kitchen (the pastry chef is sixth generation Daylesford), led by local business partners Liam Thornycroft and Samantha Mackley.

Breakfast is served daily from 8am until midday, lunch from midday to closing time (3pm weekdays, 4pm weekends), and house-made cakes and biscuits tempt throughout the day.