Above: Café Scene - circa Nov 1996. Cnr Ann and Brunswick Streets, Fortitude Valley, where Universal Store stands today.
Scene Magazine celebrates 20 years on the streets in 2013. Each week this year, in this column, we're looking back at what we, and you, were doing.
Scene Magazine wasn’t quite three years old when the author decided a café was called for.
A big one. A 24 hour one. And one that had internet access (internet cafés were just emerging) ... and one which sold concert tickets ... and where you could play chess at 3am ... and one with with a mini stage for showcase performances ... and one with big display windows for the magazine’s clients to display their wares ... all at one of Brisbane’s busiest intersections and ...
Circa 1998. Brisbane artist David Hooper was commissioned to paint the exterior.
And so a lease was signed on a dilapidated and vacated butcher shop on the corner of Ann and Brunswick Streets, Fortitude Valley, where Universal Store stands today, opposite The Empire Hotel.
Our immediate neighbours included a candle shop, a French patisserie and a barber! But we weren't the first settlers on the New Farm side of the mall — Thea Basiliou's Blonde Venus (1995) and Joc Curran's The Zoo (1992) were the earliest settlers we can recall.
Café Scene opened its doors to no fanfare whatsoever in November 1996. Its 24/7 trading and prime location dictated that it cater to a wide clientele: early morning city workers, bohemians and late-night ravers.
Circa 2000. Just prior to losing the lease to the new owners of the building and subsequent relocation to the Valley Mall.
The many memorables included the unrelenting onslaught that was Valley Fiesta, any eclectic Saturday night crowd and a System 6 Recovery — the reader can only imagine walking past at a 6am Sunday dawn to a blacked-out shopfront from which was emanating the driving hardcore sounds of DJ Thief and co.!
The 24/ 7 backlit display windows were in high demand (as were our pancakes!) and were used as promotional opportunities for Scene Magazine advertisers. It was a lot of fun. But shortly after we saw in the millenium, the owners of Universal Store bought the building and installed themselves as tenants!
The café relocated to the northern end of the Brunswick St. Mall, to the immediate left of Gloria Jeans, where it operated a far more salubrious, licensed, establishment offering al fresco seating in the mall or seclusion inside.
Friday and Saturday night entertainment included live Latin sounds and many of Brisbane’s emerging DJs — all this until 2003 when the business was sold as a precursor to Scene Mag’s expansion into Melbourne. But all that’s six years in the future. Next week, back to 1997!
Above: Circa 1997. Reading Scene Magazine in Café Scene. Window looking out to The Empire Hotel.
Above: Circa 1999. The internet has moved behind and to the left of the photographer. Window looking out to The Empire Hotel and the doors that never closed.