Queanbeyan cafe cracks top award in first year of business

Michael Weaver 31 December 2020 78
Thirty 4 cafe owners Mert Toplu and Huso Yilmaz

Thirty 4 cafe owners Mert Toplu and Huso Yilmaz outside their Queanbeyan café on the weekend. Photo: Michael Weaver.

Opening a cafe in the heart of Queanbeyan amid bushfires and a pandemic proved to be a mere speed bump after the booming eatery was last week named the best cafe at the Canberra Region Local Business Awards.

Thirty 4 cafe and restaurant was named the best by a panel of independent judges who visited 26 other cafes in Canberra and rated them on a range of criteria including ambience, food and service.

The awards also recognised 29 local businesses that won their respective categories, with Civic Shoes winning the coveted business of the year title.

For the new cafe in Queanbeyan’s Crawford Street, owner Mert Toplu and manager Huso Yilmaz said the town needed a cafe that identified with its changing population while deciding that Queanbeyan was preferable to the competitive cafe culture in Canberra.

Mr Toplu has worked as a head chef and executive chef in some of Europe’s top restaurants, as well as his home country of Turkey and in Sydney and Canberra after moving here with his wife and business partner Buket and their young family.

Queanbeyan's Thirty 4 cafe and restaurant team

Queanbeyan’s Thirty 4 cafe and restaurant team with their Canberra Region Local Business award. Photo: Supplied.

Thirty 4 cafe, named after a section of Turkey where Mr Toplu grew up, is also relevant as he was 34 years old when he opened the doors in Queanbeyan.

“I opened on 13 January this year while bushfires were burning all around us,” he tells Region Media on a busy Saturday morning where firefighters gather with tradesmen, women in lycra and locals who have heard about the new cafe making a mark in the town.

“Ten weeks later, COVID hit and we had to shut down after having our biggest week. We adapted by doing takeaways. We’re now running at 40 per cent more trade than our biggest week.”

There are a couple of favourites on the menu already, including the Village Bowl, which Mr Toplu describes as very representative of Queanbeyan.

“It’s a bit of everything on a plate,” he says. “It’s a bit messed up, but it’s so real and it tastes so good.”

Mr Toplu said Queanbeyan needed a cafe that reflected its country heart.

“It’s a really family-oriented cafe that you can walk to with a pram or a dog or a wheelchair and sit down and just have a coffee or nice meal.

“Opening here was the perfect opportunity to give this beautiful town a proper, quality cafe that really helps me continue with my love of cooking.”

Mr Toplu said he couldn’t be more proud of his team and the locals who have embraced the cafe that likes to keep it simple.

“It’s all about taking what you’ve learnt along the way and adapting it to where you are. This town really needs something like this but we just keep it simple and I love cooking for my regulars who come in and have the same thing every time.

“We are super proud to bring this award to our amazing town.”

READ ALSO: Daana takes the cake as Canberra’s best restaurants revealed

Other award winners include Daana Indian restaurant head chef Sanjay Kumar who won the business person of the year award. Daana also took home three awards at the 2020 NSW/ACT Restaurant and Catering Association Awards for Excellence in Sydney.

Courgette was named the best restaurant while the youth award went to Tobias Thome of Crux Media.

The best florist was Moxom + Whitney Florist, while the best new business was Canberra Water, Gas and Air.

Owner of The Avid Organiser Bonnie Weston was named the best sole operator. Her business helps other people who own small businesses or manage projects.

Mrs Weston had already won an Altitude Award in Sydney in November as the best micro business.

“I’m pretty thrilled to have won awards with both Women with Altitude and Local Business Awards. What a way to finish such a strange year,” she said.

Truefitt & Hill was named the best hairdresser by offering more than just a close shave and stylish haircut. The Civic business also does skincare treatments, manicures and pedicures with a hint of luxury and even a selection of refreshments that includes a single malt whiskey.

Aras, senior barber at Truefitt & Hill Canberra

Aras, the senior barber at Truefitt & Hill Canberra, one of Canberra’s most recommended barbershops. Photo: Supplied.

You can find the full list of 29 winners on the Canberra Region Local Business Awards website.

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78 Responses to Queanbeyan cafe cracks top award in first year of business
Alana Clarke Alana Clarke 10:48 pm 01 Jan 21

Elizabeth Milligan Anubhav Sharma Brendan Moenting not too bad for nsw!!

    Brendan Moenting Brendan Moenting 10:55 pm 01 Jan 21

    Alana Clarke damm straight!! If only Gunghalin could be so lucky 😛

Sean Pobjie Sean Pobjie 9:19 pm 01 Jan 21

Try this place Tayla Matic

Pam Suman Pam Suman 8:36 am 01 Jan 21

Jason Su Nay Mcfeeters we need to go here next time 😊

Bek Clark Bek Clark 11:28 pm 31 Dec 20

Hard work, stress, maybe some tears but look at you guys go! Congratulations.

Analie Seymour Analie Seymour 10:16 pm 31 Dec 20

Ashleigh Dove your visits would contribute to this 🤩

Darren Gore Darren Gore 2:49 pm 31 Dec 20

Well done, guys! :)

Rhani Pollock Rhani Pollock 7:36 am 31 Dec 20

Steven Pollock you tried it yet?

    Steven Pollock Steven Pollock 9:43 am 31 Dec 20

    Rhani Pollock yeah not a bad little cafe this one

Valeria McGuinness Valeria McGuinness 10:52 pm 30 Dec 20

Natalie this is the cafe I told you about

    Natalie Foley Natalie Foley 11:10 pm 30 Dec 20

    Valeria McGuinness cool, saw the article 😊

John Mangos John Mangos 10:31 pm 30 Dec 20

Congratulations Mert, Huso & Staff @ Thirty 4!
These guys had to jump through some hoops to get this place opened. Then when they thought the coast was clear, bushfires-smoke and then Covid lock down. What a welcome for a new cafe…
Awsome place and great food!
Best of luck,
John Mangos
Keep on going Mert, Huso & team

David McMullan David McMullan 9:22 pm 30 Dec 20

Wish I could meet you there xx

    Sandra Bainton Sandra Bainton 9:17 am 31 Dec 20

    David McMullan wouldn’t that be loverley!

Lea Pollard Lea Pollard 7:43 pm 30 Dec 20

Best spot for breaky and smoothies yum

Katrena Fuller Katrena Fuller 5:50 pm 30 Dec 20

Congratulations Mert and team. Such an outstanding achievement and well deserved.

Sil Gilbert Sil Gilbert 5:11 pm 30 Dec 20

Hayley Byrne our favourite😉

Sandra Bainton Sandra Bainton 4:58 pm 30 Dec 20

Paul Bainton meet you there next week.

Rick Reeks Rick Reeks 4:45 pm 30 Dec 20

Belinda Isle where's whatshisname!

Tayla Brister Tayla Brister 3:05 pm 30 Dec 20

Well deserved

Toni Guy Toni Guy 2:52 pm 30 Dec 20


Caroline Daley Caroline Daley 11:52 am 30 Dec 20

Mary Patton another venue for a Sunday drive 😀

Igor Cvetkoski Igor Cvetkoski 10:10 am 30 Dec 20

Bravos congratulations.

Aleksandra Cvetkoski

Caitlin Baker Caitlin Baker 10:05 am 30 Dec 20

Brunch brunch brunch Kim Baker

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