CAFE CULTURE: Indian Mehfil restaurant owner Raj Sharma with staff member Katharine Thompson in the newly launched 116 Laneway Cafe and Bar.
CAFE CULTURE: Indian Mehfil restaurant owner Raj Sharma with staff member Katharine Thompson in the newly launched 116 Laneway Cafe and Bar. David Nielsen

Melbourne-style laneway cafe comes to the heart of Ipswich

A NEW cafe opened by restaurant owner Raj Sharma has brought Melbourne-style laneway markets and alfresco dining to Ipswich.

As part of council approvals for the new cafe - 116 Laneway, the laneway between Mr Sharma's Indian Mehfil restaurant and the old Town Hall has re-opened to pedestrian traffic, linking the Ipswich Art Gallery to Brisbane St.

The cafe is cleverly housed inside a shipping container, decked out with power and a full service area with alfresco dining along the laneway.

Mr Sharma said his plan was to bring in entertainers and allow small market operators such as flower stalls to set up to bring the laneway to life.

"I want people to come and use the area and sell flowers. We will have music here as well. We can create the festivity of the Melbourne laneway," he said.

Mr Sharma said the cafe culture was developing into a thriving scene in central Ipswich.

"We have a lot of choices. We are seeing the city embracing cafe culture now. It has taken a long time," he said.

"I have seen both success and failure. When I started two major projects in the city, Indian Mehfil and Stumps, I have seen how the city has taken to it and I think the whole culture has changed now and now we are seeing more people.

"I always said that the more cafes and restaurants there are in the city, the more people will come into the city to dine, because they have more options.

"Now we are seeing a lot more activity in the street, the Top of Town is starting to have a lot of appeal, we have the micro-brewery and quite a lot of cafes. I'm really looking forward to the Mall being redeveloped and we get to have more activity in the Mall as well.

"There are a lot more youth now who used to flock to the Valley or New Farm. We are seeing a lot more people coming to town now. People are seeing more value for money here."

116 Laneway will have a grand opening on February 26.

The cafe opens for breakfast and lunch from 6.30am to 2pm and has a cocktail bar and live music on Thursdays and Fridays from 3.30pm to 8pm.