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Glenelg’s new Tram Side Kiosk takes over former Buffalo site

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At the former site of the Buffalo restaurant, the family behind a new Glenelg kiosk has brought life back to an iconic “red rattler” tram and opened it to the public for the first time in years.

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During its life on the rails, Tram 361 ferried generations of South Australians between Adelaide and Glenelg before it was retired. It ended up at a Victorian museum, only to eventually be brought home to South Australia and placed on display at Wigley Reserve with its doors locked shut.

However, since November, the “red rattler” has once again welcomed passengers, if only for a trip down memory lane, as patrons enjoy coffee and snacks from the new Tram Side Kiosk.

Coinciding with the recent opening of the new $1 million Wigley Reserve Playspace and Fitness Hub, the kiosk opened in November at the former site of the HMS Buffalo restaurant, which closed in 2013 and was demolished in 2019.

The family team behind the kiosk has secured a two-year lease from Holdfast Bay Council to operate a semi-permanent cafe with outdoor tables and chairs overlooking the marina. The kiosk’s five business partners are Joe Girolamo and his partner Tina Payne, Tina’s daughter Leticia Dunning, Leticia’s husband Sam Dunning, and Sam’s sister Lucy Dunning.

The family previously operated North Adelaide café institution The Store, which they sold in 2018 to then launch bar and restaurant Oceanique at the Adelaide Sailing Club. Joe has a long history in hospitality, having established successful ice cream and bakery franchises around South Australia.

Sam says the kiosk has done “a roaring trade” since opening late last year, while the tram has been popular with families during the school holidays.

“It’s just a kiosk with a simple offering but it seems to be really popular … people love it,” says Sam.

“We’ve tailored it to kids and parents – good locally roasted Prestwood coffee, ham and cheese toasted sandwiches and croissants, cakes, cookies and soft-serve ice cream, which is amazing on a hot day.

“Joe and Tina live in a building which has a balcony that overlooks this area. They’ve been desperate for somewhere to get a decent coffee within walking distance and there hasn’t been anything for a few years.

“When the Buffalo site came up, Tina and Joe thought it would be great to put something next to the tram, because it’s just the best spot and the council was launching a $1.1 million playground at Wigley Reserve.

“The tram has been here for years and never fully utilised – it just sat here, not open to the public. It’s an amazing old rattler and it’s beautiful to be able to open it again.”

 

The site will soon be completed with new bike racks as well as tables, chairs and umbrellas on the grass area of Wigley Reserve.

The new playground draws many families to visit the café, while numerous cycling groups start their morning rides at the shop with an espresso.

“We’re noticing now it’s becoming a destination for people who live locally because there’s ample parking and people can walk here to get a coffee and catch up with their friends,” Sam says.

Glenelg’s Tram 361 was once saved by a community campaign and has recently been opened to the public. Photo: Ben Kelly

“Nothing beats good old-fashioned hospitality and I think that’s been lost in recent times. Prior to COVID it became a number’s game and I think a lot of people had forgotten that hospitality is about looking after people and making people feel welcomed and that you want them to be there.

“But it’s doing a roaring trade, it’s certainly exceeded our expectations. It’s a good little business.”

The Tram Side Kiosk is open Wednesday through Sunday, 7am to 4pm.

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