While I was out and about talking with people last month, I happened to meet Dhan Shrestha. While you may not know his name, you may know him and his family, who took over the Shingle Inn at the Forum just two years ago.
Dhan moved to Australia with his family from Kathmandu, Nepal, 14 years ago in 2008, to work in construction. With his children very young, his son just 2, they arrived in Belmont – and they’ve stayed. Their children went to school and grew up here, and when his eldest daughter Prem finished her business degree and was looking for a job, they decided to buy the Shingle Inn.
While lockdowns, isolation and travel bans dragged on, they got to work upgrading the café, with new upholstery and fittings, ready for life to return to normal.
When I visited, it was humming with people talking and eating together. “I’ve been through many challenges, but it’s a freedom. We’re not scared of working hard," Dhan said.
He loves the café because it’s an opportunity to give to the community in many ways. They partner with the Community College to teach students about working in hospitality, and they work with a disability centre in Cannington, and train people with varying disabilities how to work in a café.
Although they bought the café to provide secure work for them all, the benefits have been more wide reaching than just secure work. The magic of connection happens in the café.
"Western society lacks real happiness, and it lies in connection to family and community. In the cafe people can get together and relax over food. We want to let people be happy here," he said.
Dhan’s daughter Prem (pictured above) manages the café, and whole family work there together on the weekends. They are enjoying the opportunity to spend the time together, bringing happiness and peace, to their little piece of our community.