Early last year – post-bushfires, pre-pandemic – British expat Thom Adams moved to South Australia. With a background in fine-dining and experience as a sommelier, his love for the craft of winemaking took him to Germany, where he worked on a couple of vintages, before eventually landing him in the Adelaide Hills; where he now works at Manon Farm.
On the days he’s not at the farm, though, Adams will be found behind the counter at Thiele’s Shop, a new cafe and soon-to-be bar on Hahndorf’s main street – right next door to (and connected with) art supply shop The Paint Box. It was through his partner, Lily Madden (Maggie’s Farm), that he became aware of the unused space: a shopfront from the early 20th century, sitting on a block of land allotted to Hahndorf pioneer Samuel Thiele in 1839.
“Lily’s mum leases this whole building, and it’s always been an art supply shop with a little studio in the back, which has classes. This space [where the cafe is] was not being used, and at the start of the year it was renovated,” says Adams. “We kind of tried to start a cafe, but didn’t really go fully into it. And then, maybe about three months ago, Lily’s mum kept sort of asking me if I wanted to do it … eventually the stars aligned.”
The PaintBox is an idyllic sort of shop; it’s all too easy to linger while browsing the paintbrushes, pencils and paper inside its heritage-listed walls. Thiele’s Shop – named for its historic owner, who, “amongst other things grew vegetables and sold flowers to the residents and visitors of Hahndorf,” reads a post on Thiele’s Shop’s Instagram – takes its cues from here. It’s cosy and down-to-earth, with natural wines and farmhouse beers, a small food menu, and Degroot coffee.
“I guess a lot of the thoughts of people that I work with and hang out with, is that there isn’t really anywhere in the Hills that is dedicated to just doing beer and wine from producers that we like,” says Adams. “So I felt like – not only was there a gap in the market, but it was also something that people just absolutely need. And Hahndorf is kind of in the middle [of the Hills] … I think a lot of people commute via Hahndorf.”
Wines from Manon are of course available, as well as drops from Jean Bouteille, and a good selection of international options from importer Giorgio de Maria. Wild fermented beers from Tasmania’s Two Metre Tall round out the drink options. The food will be “mainly things on toast”, plus granola and jambon-beurre (ham and butter baguettes). Bread will be from Brid and Mylor Bakery and pickles will come from Bhreu Ferments. There’ll also be babka from small-batch supplier Gordi. Adams and the team will grow as much produce of their own to be used in the shop, too, and Madden will grow flowers for sale.
Thiele’s Shop feels like a natural extension of the art space, and it’s hoped that visitors will drift between both when they visit to eat and drink. “There’s definitely an intersection there – between the art world and food and wine,” says Madden. “For lots of the customers, I think that will translate well. Not just to young, trendy, natural wine drinkers; but to all of our clientele.”
A number of notable artists have passed through The Paintbox’s doors over the years – like Jordy Kerwick, whose artworks are proudly displayed in the cafe. “He originally bought paint from mum in the early, early days, when the shop was tiny,” says Madden. “Because he didn’t have any money, he would send paintings for paint. But now he’s very well-known.”
For now, Thiele’s Shop will be open on Friday to Sunday, from 8am until 3pm. If all goes well, Adams plans for it to become a fully-fledged wine bar on Friday evenings.
Thiele’s Shop is scheduled to open at 100B Mount Barker Road, Hahndorf on Friday September 17.