Silver Star Cafe (Port Hedland)
|Silver Star Cafe|
The Silver Star Cafe and alfresco deck, 2012.
|Established||26 October 2010|
|Current owner(s)||Julie Berry|
|Food type||Modern Australian|
|Street address||12a Edgar Street|
The Silver Star Cafe is currently closed as part of a renovations and lease renewal project. There is an expectation in the town that it will open again in March 2016, but there have been no announcements to confirm this (as at 16 January 2016). The 'Star' restaurant is in the west end of Port Hedland, Western Australia. Its kitchen and lounge area are housed within a historic preserved railway carriage, and it has an alfresco deck alongside.
A project of BHP Billiton Iron Ore and FORM, with support from Town of Port Hedland, Boom Logistics and Laing O'Rourke, the cafe was officially opened by the Premier of Western Australia, Colin Barnett, on 26 October 2010.
The railway carriage that is now the nucleus of the Silver Star Cafe was built by the Budd Company in 1939, for the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad, commonly known as the Burlington. A "diner-parlour and observation car", it was assigned the fleet number 301, and was named the Silver Star.
Together with two passenger cars, the Silver Leaf and the Silver Eagle, and a power car, the Silver Charger, the Silver Star made up the General Pershing Zephyr, a streamliner train named after General John 'Black Jack' Pershing. On 30 April 1939, the train made its inaugural passenger trip between St Louis and Kansas City, Missouri, in the midwest of the USA.
Pershing was a World War I veteran, who became the chief of staff of the United States Army. He was born and raised in a town not far from the train's route. The names Silver Leaf, Silver Eagle and Silver Star all corresponded to US Army badges of rank, while the Silver Charger was named after one of the General's horses.
The General Pershing Zephyr was the ninth and last in a series of "shovelnose" Zephyr streamliners operated by the Burlington, and the only one made up of non-articulated cars. The "shovelnose" Zephyrs were lighter and faster than their contemporaries, because they were made of lightweight stainless steel, to a unique "streamlined" design. Although the earlier, articulated, versions of these trains had the further advantage of a reduced number of trucks (bogies), and no couplers, the General Pershing Zephyr's non-articulated configuration provided maximum flexibility and ease of maintenance.
The Silver Star was the tail-end car in the General Pershing Zephyr. It had a rounded observation end, and was considered to be the train's "most distinguished car." Inside, it was fitted with a dining room 19 feet (5.8 m) in length seating 24 passengers at six tables. At the rounded end was an observation parlour with 22 movable seats, and a kitchen and pantry were at the other end.
The General Pershing Zephyr ran on its assigned route until the United States entered World War II, and then its individual cars continued in use on other trains. As late as 1967, Silver Star was still in the consist of the combined Ak-Sar-Ben Zephyr and American Royal Zephyr.
By 1974, the first 100 million tonnes of iron ore had been carried between Newman and Port Hedland on the Mount Newman railway in the Pilbara, Australia. To celebrate this achievement, the US based mining company AMAX, which was then a partner in Mount Newman Mining, presented the Silver Star to the latter company at an official ceremony.
The carriage was renamed the Sundowner and put into service along the otherwise freight-only Mount Newman railway. For nearly 20 years, it made a weekly round trip from Newman to Port Hedland and back, carrying families and sporting teams on a Friday for shopping and sports fixtures, and returning them to Newman the following Sunday evening. The Sundowner was also used for special trips, including day excursions, VIP functions and "Santa Specials". On all of these trips, it offered views of the Pilbara landscape not otherwise visible to its appreciative occupants.
During its service on the Mount Newman railway, the carriage was refurbished and modified inside and out on several occasions. The original kitchen was removed, the galley relocated, and the elegant original interior panelling replaced with Western Australian jarrah timber. The carriage was always maintained in working order, but by the early 21st century had fallen largely into disuse.
In 2009, BHP Billiton Iron Ore, by then the sole owner of the railway, decided to give the carriage to the Port Hedland community as a visitor attraction and cafe. In co-operation with FORM, and with support from Town of Port Hedland, Boom Logistics and Laing O'Rourke, the carriage was relocated from the railway's Nelson Point yard to the west end of Port Hedland. In its new incarnation as a cafe, it was officially opened by the Premier of Western Australia, Colin Barnett, on 26 October 2010.
The cafe business
The owner of the Silver Star Cafe business is Julie Berry. A resident of Port Hedland since 2008, she has previously worked in a cupcake business in Sydney, on corporate events catering with Westfield and then as a part-time caterer in Port Hedland. The cafe is her first full-time hospitality business.
For the first few months after the cafe was opened in October 2010, it traded from Wednesdays to Sundays, but since then it has traded seven days a week. More recently, the evening meal has been changed from tapas to a full a la carte service.
Although the kitchen is small, the whole menu is cooked fresh on the premises.
According to the Australasian Mining Review, the Silver Star Cafe is "arguably the best breakfast spot in Hedland". The Cafe has also been favourably reviewed by Lonely Planet, which praised it as "possibly the coolest cafe in the Pilbara".
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