Ut Si Cafe for sale, offers unique chance to convert a church into a home

After 10 years of owning the oldest church in Perth Colette Barnes is ready to move on, but a cafe might not be the thing to replace the much-loved Ut Si.

One Agency real estate agent Dean Harper said the ex-Methodist Chapel was being marketed as a potential home, gallery, cafe or to use for short-stay accommodation such as Airbnb.

There has been a lot of interest since the property went live on social media, Mr Harper said, which was also helped by the recent buzz surrounding an Anglican church which was converted into a family home in the same town.

“They have tried selling it on the commercial side of things for people to buy the building and continue it as a cafe … but I came along and said maybe they were trying to tap into the wrong market and we should focus on people that may want to buy it as a residence,” Mr Harper said.

The church was built in 1838, about 35 years after Tasmania was first settled.

It was constructed by convict labourers in Georgian Style and has been loving restored, with exposed beams and trusses and rehabilitation of the original pit sawn oak floorboards.

Mr Harper said it had been hard to price given the historical significance and character, so instead offers were being invited.

“If the offer is good enough to tempt Colette the owner, it’ll sell and if not she will keep it,” he said.

“If we get an offer we will have a sold on the board fairly soon.”

A property like this was rare according to Mr Harper, with only three or four churches for sale that he has known of in his 16 years of real estate. For him it is the first church that he has sold.

The owners are ready for the next step and while they would love to see a cafe retained in the town, they understand the beauty of a residence that could be created.

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Ms Barnes had only planned to run the cafe for about five years, but a decade later she is still in Perth.

“We purchased the church when it came on the market 10 years ago because we wanted to establish a cafe in the town,” she said.

“We took about eight months to renovate it and we used a furniture maker named James Curtis and Chris Calverley did the landscaping.”

Her son Julien had just finished his apprenticeship and joined the business as the chef.

While the premises was leased for a short time, and operated as Phoenix and the Wolf, Julien came back from Melbourne to run the kitchen until the site is sold.

“He is going to Canada, he has got a job in Whistler,” Ms Barnes said. “I am ready to move on … I have no idea what I am going to do but I have a house in town and a big garden, so I would love to concentrate on that.”