In 1837, William's Town was laid out to the order of Governor Bourke. First named was Nelson Place, the main street that would face the Hobson's Bay Anchorage. Victorias first settlement grew & by the late 1800s, the street was familiarly known as 'The Front'. Here the fashionable promenaded & shopped, for Parisian millinery & silk from Mr McRobert, teas from China at Doig & Hall, renown in Andrew Riders' gallery of society photos & perhaps just one of the delectable pastries that chef Fred Woods of The Williamstown Coffee Palace was famed for.
The winds of change blew strong across Nelson Place, as the shipping moved to Port Melbourne, the houses & banks closed their doors & it was a hundred years before the street began to emerge from the mists of obscurity.
Amongst those who saw the potential of the street, was Graham Cleary. Behind the original shopfront at No 213, little was left of Williamstown's first bakery but Easter 1989, the antique ovens were lit, the cappuccino machine fired up & Hobson's Choice Foods opened it's doors. Today, amongst a bustle of restaurants, art galleries, antiques & gift shops, Hobson's Choice Foods honors the tradition of good coffee & food. At 7.30 the distinctive green & red Vittoria umbrellas are unfurled outside Hobson's Choice & the day on Nelson Place begins.
The atmosphere at Hobson's Choice is relaxed. Our role seems to change hourly; a leisurely breakfast, a cappuccino for the drive to work or a short black after a long night, a business meeting, a healthy lunch, an indulgent afternoon tea, breakfast at 5pm! dinner with your favorite wine, or perhaps a hot chocolate by the fire on the way home.
The menu is extensive & while old favorites remain standard, there is a specials board - dependent upon the season & the whim of the chef. Select from the range in the deli fridge or perhaps something from the display of pastries & cakes baked on the premises.
Our thanks to
& to past exhibitorsLuke Devery : Mask maker
Peg Smith : Computer enhanced photos
Hobson's Choice Foods changed hands in January 2001
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Etymology of "Hobson's Choice"
Thomas Hobson was a liveryman in Cambridge who required customers renting a horse, to take the beast nearest the door. By 1649, the term Hobson's Choice was coined, an apparently free choice when there is no real alternative. Etymology : WWWebster Dictionary : Biography.com.
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