MELBOURNE TO MARYVALE: James Murray and Leanne Heywood are the fresh faces at Shenandoah.
MELBOURNE TO MARYVALE: James Murray and Leanne Heywood are the fresh faces at Shenandoah. Molly Glassey

Melbourne couple bring old America to Maryvale

ONE of Maryvale's favourite coffee spots and bars is set to have a 19th century makeover thanks to its new owners.

James Murray and Leanne Heywood have been at the old Maryvale General Store for a week, renaming it the Shenandoah Bar Cafe and Store after the Confederate States Navy full-rigged ship.

"We'd love to transform this into one of those old hillbilly American general stores, with maybe a bit of a naval theme,” James said.

"And an American-style bar.

"I've got a lot of civil war memorabilia I'd like to bring into the store.”

The couple spent some time in the American deep south and were inspire to bring a little of that to Maryvale.

"That was a couple of years ago,” Leanne said.

"We picked up a lot of ideas from there.”

Leanne originally comes from Warwick, but spent 18 years working in aged care management in Melbourne.

"It just felt like time to come home and I've got family around here,” she said.

"So we had to decide what we would do.

"We just thought this was a way to get away from the rat race, and Maryvale is beautiful.”

Neither James nor Leanne have run their own business or worked in hospitality.

"We're not working for anyone else, and we finally get to be our own bosses,” Leanne said.

"At the moment we're figuring all these things out.

"We've had some locals from Maryvale pop up for a coffee.

"Once we've got a basic understanding and have got everything else sorted, we'll start serving food on weekends.”

For Australia Day the cafe will be serving up some classic bites.

"There's a cricket carnival with games in Maryvale,” Leanne said.

"The pub is doing a spit, but we'll be having lamingtons, Anzac biscuits, and something to have with your coffee.

"And we'll be cutting up a watermelon and selling that.”

It was James' interest in the American Civil War that brought about the cafe's hard-to-pronounce name.

"People often ask, well how do you say that,” Leanne said.

"It was a civil war-era ship that called into Melbourne.

"And it's mentioned in the John Denver song Take Me Home, Country Road.

"Almost heaven, West Virginia, Blue Ridge Mountains, Shenandoah River.”



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