For close to half a century it's been known for its imported and locally sourced gourmet delicatessens, wine and crafted beers, not to mention - in more recent times - its incomparable takeaway coffee and sandwiches. But it's arguably only a matter of time before this third-generation, family-owned Ballarat institution rivals, in a not dissimilar fashion, Melbourne's famous boutique laneway café and bar scene. The much-loved Campana's - situated on the bustling corner of Armstrong Street North and Mair Street, opposite Civic Hall and Gov Hub - recently lodged plans with City of Ballarat detailing a bold expansion of its traditional Italian deli and cellar business. In short, the proposal seeks to transform the underutilised and deceptively large warehouse-like space to the rear of the existing premises into a swanky café and bar destination, offering indoor and outdoor dining options alike from 4pm to 11pm each day. The liquor and deli would meanwhile continue to operate on a separate footing, albeit between the hours of 7am to 4pm, catering for all the daring early birds amongst us. Serge Campana, who operates the existing deli and liquor store with identical twin Lou and sister Meg Campana, said the proposed expansion represented a natural evolution of the family business. "The original idea behind Campana's in '76 was three supermarkets - my nonna was a twin and her husband went into supermarkets with her twin's husband," he said. "It later evolved into the deli and liquor, which is the only renovation to the building we've done." "Building on that, it occurred to us that we have such a unique opportunity with this back space to take it to another level, especially with all the growth in tourism and hospitality in Ballarat." To realise the vision, both facades fronting Armstrong Street North and Mair Street would be modified and undergo partial demolition, accommodating a new entrance door to the existing store on Armstrong Street North as well as three new windows (including a large bifold window) along the Mair Street frontage. The existing early 70s brick cladding fronting both facades, which predates Campana's, would be removed and replaced with rendered brick cladding and reclaimed brick. Much of the lower wall running parallel with the laneway would also go, making way for the envisaged open plan café-bar area. Access to the proposed café-bar area would therefore be afforded from the laneway off Mair Street, not Mair Street itself, with the laneway operating as a pedestrian-only space. "We looked at Mair Street, but it wasn't the right fit for an entrance," Serge said. "The laneway seemed like the obvious, logical space instead." The proposal also seeks to install a large skylight above the new café and bar area, and to curve the veranda roof along the Armstrong Street North frontage around to the Mair Street frontage, next to which a large mural of some description would be installed. Meanwhile, what remains of the original Victorian two-storey terrace, visible from the streetscape along Mair Street, would be retained and restored, using lime plaster. Little, however, is known of the Campanas' precise plans for the vast interior, but for the fact it would easily accommodate up to 85 patrons. "Without giving away too much," said Lou, "we're doing what we love." And, similarly, proving he is indeed a twin to a fault, Serge separately told The Courier he wasn't inclined to "give away too much". When later pressed on whether Campana's famous toasted sandwiches would at least be here to stay, he hesitated. "Well, look, that's one of the big questions. I don't know what to say," he said, before teasing, "they might make the menu." Whatever the case, big plans are clearly afoot at this historic cornershop site. If you are seeing this message you are a loyal digital subscriber to The Courier, as we made this story available only to subscribers. Thank you very much for your support and allowing us to continue telling Ballarat's story. We appreciate your support of journalism in our great city.