25 October 2022

Riverina Rewind: From cycles to Chinese food and now plans for a basement 'speakeasy'

| Chris Roe
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The Lum Inn may be transformed into Wagga’s next bar. Photo: Michelle Maddison.

This week, the team from the Museum of the Riverina take a look at a building that still stands on Fitzmaurice Street, but whose facade is sure to change in the near future.

For more than 40 years (up until the first decade of the 21st century), Chinese restaurant the Lum Inn operated from the basement of this building.

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The painted sign on the side of the building advertises both Chinese and Australian foods being served. Australian Chinese cuisine is a style of cooking developed by Australians of Chinese descent, who adapted dishes to satisfy local Anglo-Celtic tastes, particularly when Chinese restaurants first came on the scene.

old pic with bikes

Bennett & Barkell’s Cycle Agency once operated on the Fitzmaurice Street site. Photo: Museum of the Riverina.

Over the years, the building has housed numerous businesses. Built in 1908, it was originally home to the Wagga branch of Bennett & Barkell’s Cycle Agency. Managed by Mr. W. McCarthy, the business was the head centre in the Riverina district for the distribution of “B and B” cycles and “Triumph” motors.

Looking ahead, there are plans afoot to turn the basement into a speakeasy-style bar called “Olivette”, fashioned after the sly-grog shops of 1920s New York.

There is a development application before Wagga Wagga City Council to transform the space to offer an extensive range of whiskeys, cocktails and tapas-style food.

Did you ever eat at the Lum Inn?

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