Broken Hill residents will be interested to see what the future holds for the Bell’s Milk Bar on Patton Street.
The current owner, Jason King, has decided to sell the iconic 1950s-styled Bell’s café.
“In many ways, I’m reluctant to sell, but after 18 years, it’s time for me to follow my filmmaking passion, and I’m excited to offer Bells for sale to someone who is chasing their own dreams to run an original milk bar and iconic tourism destination,” Mr King said.
Mr King said while he is sad to say goodbye to the business, he is excited about what’s next for Bell’s café and what a fresh set of eyes and enthusiasm from new owners will bring.
“I’ve had such a great time at Bells over the years,” he said.
Mr King has been the custodian of the 130 years of history of Bell’s café and the legacy that the Bell’s café gave Broken Hill.
“The history here is amazing, there are not many places left where you can have the same experience in 2022 that you could have had in 1956,” Mr King said.
Generations of Broken Hill locals have visited Bells café on Patton Street for their famous malted milks and soda spiders, and this is something Mr King wants to see continue.
The company Fenton began making confectionary and cordials on the site in 1892.
Minnie Pearl Davis went to work as a junior cordial maker and married another cordial maker John Joseph Longman. They had a family together and, in the 1900s, took ownership and called the place Longmans.
John Longman died in the first world war in France in 1918, and Minnie Pearl Longman kept the place going.
Minnie Pearl later married Les Bell senior, a toolmaker at the South mine, and they had one son, Les Bell junior.
The Bells’ altered and expanded the interior of the shop in 1938.
Minnie Pearl left the business to her son Les and his wife Mavis in 1953, who undertook a major refurbishment in 1956, which is largely how the site remains today.
Small batches of the syrups and cordials served at Bell’s café are still handmade on-site using the old recipes of Minnie Pearl, her son Les Bell and his wife, Mavis.
Mr King and his mother, Diane Langley, brought the café from Margaret Groves in 2004.
They wanted to preserve the 1950s version of the shop and the authentic milk bar atmosphere, complete with working soda fountains and original malted milk dispensers.
Mr King bought the business because of its history. He wanted to keep the Bell’s tradition alive.
“I imagine some people would be thrilled at the idea of living in this vintage wonderland, and others would have ideas on how to use the space to grow the business. I’d really love to see someone continue to honour the milk bar tradition as we have, but it’s also a great opportunity for someone to put their own unique stamp on the history of Bells,” said Mr King,
The property includes a three-bedroom retro residence that is currently used for a milk bar museum.