No. 5 Church Street Bellingen- a Hub for all seasons

no. 5 church street Bellingen owners Anthony natalie Harrison

No. 5 Church Street is the Screenwave International Film Festival (SWIFF) ‘Hub’ in Bellingen-a place where festival attendees can eat, drink, mingle and discuss the films they have been watching.  The fourth annual SWIFF is currently in full gear, bringing us an eclectic array of national and international arthouse attractions.  And No. 5 has rightly transformed itself into a wonderful meeting place for the film lovers amongst us.

“We are very excited to be able to support Dave and Kate from Screenwave as festival sponsors. They are truly wonderful people devoted to creative, artistic talent expressed through film,”  says Anthony  Harrison, Owner/Manager of Bellingen’s reinvigorated No. 5 Church Street.

Anthony and Natalie have been sole owners and managers of No. 5 Church Street since June 2018 and have set about infusing this iconic Bellingen restaurant and entertainment venue with their own brand of passion and enthusiasm.  “We long for No. 5 Church Street to be a home away from home, a place everyone can come from near or far, create memorable lasting moments, share stories, play cards, listen to amazing musical talent, be entertained in artistic culture, enjoy affordable food and know that love matters most,” says Anthony.  Wow- let’s find out more!!

Anthony- how long have you called the Bellingen Shire home?

As a child, my family would always holiday in Bellingen, due to many of our relatives who call Bello home. In our late teens, Natalie and I placed a deposit on a 5 acre block of land in the Promised Land and started to dream of the home we’d build there. However a work opportunity arose, which meant we stayed in Sydney. Finally, in late 2015, a window opened for us to move out of Sydney and to purchase a property in the Promised Land- now this is home.

Do you have a hospitality background?

My background is in advertising and media.  In 1995 I started an advertising/media company in Sydney securing work from Arnott’s Biscuits and from here it grew to to a successful business working for many well known brands.   But my passion has and always will be working on campaigns for a cause, ie ‘not-for-profits’ and charities, pioneering and innovating ways to raise funds or to initiate positive change that will help make the world a better place. In 2011 I started a company called ADTEAM and in 2014 a company called ONTEAM. Both exist to help Australian businesses.

So what drove your decision to purchase No. 5 Church Street?

We started as loyal regulars at No. 5- mostly due to our love of the Chai. We got to know the previous owners, so when Paul mentioned his need to move on, we made the decision to buy in. At first the idea was to be silent partners. However around 6 months later the opportunity came to acquire the remaining shares and we took on the restaurant in a full time capacity.

So do you have a vision for your new enterprise?

Being new to hospitality we’ve had to learn along the way. Our desire is to create an environment that celebrates life- welcoming everyone to this space that has heart. So our vision is that visitors to No. 5 come together for a memorable experience. Whether it is the Chai (that won us over to start), the hand-cut Dorrigo potato chips, our gorgeous staff or the live entertainment- we want to create an experience. Whilst we’re still on a journey to achieving this goal, as nothing is ever perfect, we sincerely want our local community to be proud of No. 5. We continue to make changes to the décor and are soon to add a new menu specialising in a particular cuisine (sshhh- this is a secret).

For No. 5 our positioning is ‘Truly, Authentically Bello’. The reason for this is the history, the memories, those that went before us and for what No. 5 means to so many. It really is an honour to own this restaurant- a place that really belongs to the community.

You have an ethos of supporting local.  Can you explain how you do this?

Our desire is to support our local Bello businesses by sourcing seasonal local produce and basing much of our menu upon this. We’re blessed to be positioned in an area which is bountiful in some of the best produce available and as such have created great relationships with some of our local farmers and even hobby gardeners with flourishing herb gardens.

How would you describe your menu?

Our menu is made up to offer a variety of choices to appeal to customers tastes and delights. From spicy, sweet, vegetarian, vegan or organic, there is something for everyone and our ever-changing board of seasonal specials will keep those adventurous tastebuds satisfied.  All our meals are made on the premise under the experienced reign of our team of chefs- Phil Manno (well known for his days at the Flying Fox), Phil Barker, Greg Power, Jonny Everson and Chelone Boshier.

phil manno at no. 5 church st bellingen

Chef Phil Manno

Do you have a signature dish?

We aim to be authentic with every cuisine we offer, making our own signature dishes. A curry as you would find in India, fish and chips better than the Brits, tacos that transport you straight to Mexico City and burgers that are better than a hungry Jack.  And of course our Ritual Chai.

You better tell us a bit more about your Chai.

Our Chai is really amazing and everyday we receive compliments. We call it Ritual Chai as we’d like people to make it a daily ritual. It is brewed on the premises every morning with the formula having been perfected over many years. We make it from scratch.  I describe it as having a kick of spice and full of flavour- authentic to how Chai is meant to taste. Many enjoy a pot of Chai with our chips…something the restaurant is renowned for.

Anthony Harrison owner/manager of No. 5 Church Street Bellingen chats to I Love Bello Shire about his vision for the venue and being the Screenwave International Film Festival Hub for the next 2 weeks.

The Ritual Chai Van

Our Ritual Chai van is currently serving SWIFF patrons outside the Jetty Memorial Theatre in Coffs.

You truly support the music scene.  Is this an integral part of what you offer?

Our entertainment manager Annie is the most passionate person I’ve met when it comes to live music and is fully committed to making No. 5 an awesome venue for all artists- from those just starting out to others who have a name. We are proud to be known as Bello’s home for live music. Many artists thank us for providing a unique space, an intimate place for them to share their gifts. We only see this expanding.

Anthony Harrison owner/manager of No. 5 Church Street Bellingen chats to I Love Bello Shire about his vision for the venue and being the Screenwave International Film Festival Hub for the next 2 weeks.

Mid North Coast Band ‘The Shufflemen’ playing at No. 5 Church Street

Any future plans for No. 5? Any secrets you can share?

Our new cuisine is still a secret – but watch this space. We have plans for additional changes inside the restaurant to keep building on the eclectic atmosphere. We are also committed to help young local people find work or learn skills. We also intend to offer the venue for more community charity events, welcome wedding receptions and private functions and will continue to take No. 5 out to the people via our vans and online sales.

We are all a work in progress, always looking to improve who and what we are. And so too is No. 5 Church Street. We love Bellingen, the cultural diversity, the community that embraces the gift of living and cares for wellness of others and the environment. We also welcome other thoughts and ideas, and we’ll remain devoted to making No. 5 truly and authentically Bello…a place for all to come and enjoy.

For more information about SWIFF

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