A new restaurant and coffee lounge in Kurri Kurri is helping homeless women get back on their feet.
Profits from Murals Restaurant at the Empire Tavern will fund programs run by Marli Accommodation Services, which opened transitional accommodation for homeless single women at the former watering hole in November.
The restaurant opened on January 5, with well-known local cook Sharon McCure running the kitchen.
Murals is open for lunch Monday to Saturday, offering pub-style meals at affordable prices.
The restaurant doesn’t just help fund the accommodation service – it also provides work experience for the women who are staying there.
Marli Accommodation Services CEO Liz Berger said it is important that the women achieve something in their time with the service.
“The ladies who are staying here are helping out in the kitchen, because staying in their room can be a bit boring,” Ms Berger said.
“Some of these women are very qualified, but life has given them a bit of a kick, and they have become homeless, while some of the older women may have spent their lives raising children, and haven’t had the chance to learn those skills.
“When they decide to move on, they can use us as a reference.”
Ms Berger said the Kurri Kurri site will eventually have its own vegetable garden, which she hopes will encourage the women to take up horticulture studies.
Diners can also opt to ‘pay it forward’ by adding a donation on top of their bill.
This money will be used buy a gift voucher to treat a local family in need to meal at Murals or its soon-to-open sister cafe, Darcy’s (at the Currency Lass Hotel in Maitland, where Marli’s accommodation service for homeless men and couples is located).
“It will give the family a nice memory,” Ms Berger said.
Since opening the accommodation service at Kurri Kurri in November, Ms Berger has opened another restaurant – Seafood 79 on Beaumont, in Hamilton – which will also help fund Marli’s programs.
Meanwhile, she is searching for artists to contribute to the walls of the Kurri Kurri restaurant, which is named as a tribute to the town’s famous mural project.
Ms Berger said a different theme is planned for each part of the old pub – including a mural with a focus on women and the history of the area, an Aboriginal art work, and one depicting native flora and fauna.
Any artists who are interested in helping can contact Ms Berger on 0402 096 267.