Who would have thought that I’d be here – stranded on the side of a dirt road in semi-rural NSW and wondering if perhaps I would like to live in this neck of the woods? As someone born and raised in the big smoke, I’ve always thought of myself as a city slicker, and yet something’s come over me… maybe I’ve inhaled some weird fumes. There is a fair bit of exhaust smoke pouring out of my car right now, so I wouldn’t rule that out. 

Not there aren’t weird fumes aplenty in the city. That’s one point in favour of country life: the air is so much cleaner. At least, it is when you’re not standing next to a smoking car. Then there’s the quiet. I didn’t realise a road could be this quiet. Granted, I’ve noticed that when a car does come by, it tends to really barrel along with an almighty roar and maybe a bit of a skidding sound for good measure. But there’s no constant ‘bip bip bip’ of traffic lights or trains or sirens – just a magpie cawing nearby and the occasional engine revving.

So, what am I doing out here? Well, like I said, my car’s a bit of wreck right now, so I’m waiting to hear back from a mechanic near Queanbeyan. That’s the closest big town to where I’ve broken down. I’m hoping the shop can send someone out here. Actually, I’m hoping they have to tow my ride into town and spend some time working on it, running engine diagnostics or whatnot. 

That would give me an opportunity to have a gander at the local real estate. I’m just curious. I mean, would it be so bad to live out here? Lower house prices, space for days, and… I don’t know, presumably some other stuff I can’t think of right now. There’s got to be loads of pros for the list, I reckon, and city life has plenty of cons. 

Am I trying to talk myself into this? Or just trying the idea on for size?

Number One

I’m the type of guy who doesn’t need anything from anyone, you know? 100% self-sufficiency: that’s the name of my game, and if you don’t like it, that’s not my problem. That’s the thing, right? I don’t need anything from you, and you don’t get anything from me – no favours, no validation and most importantly none of my precious time. I need all of it to devote to my one true love.

That would be my truck, also known as my my one and only. Some people probably think I’m a bit funny in the head, thinking of a hunk of old metal in this way. But like I said, I don’t need anyone’s approval. Besides, it’s not anything weird. It’s just my way of expressing how much I freaking love this truck. 

The one exception to my self-sufficiency protocol is when it comes to advice on maintaining the truck, and for that I refer to my mechanic. Around Bentleigh, where I live, there’s a handful of pretty good auto shops, and I’ve checked them all out. None of them stack up to my go-to guy, though. He’s a fully qualified technician but he works out his back shed. I guess he’s a bit of renegade, like me. 

A few months back I went for a brake repair near Moorabbin, at one of these other local workshops. They did a perfectly good job – nothing to complain about at all, as far as the work was concerned. The price was okay, too. But something was just… off. I can’t even put my finger on what it was, but I’m sure it had to do with the personality of the technicians. 

I think it’s that, if I’m going to go to someone for help, I need them to be on my wavelength – sympatico, you know? I can just feel it in the way the truck handles when it’s been worked on by this one dude.

Broken Hotel Window

I’m staying in a hotel with my family on holidays. I’m the mother of three children (and a man child who I call my husband). I love my family but they’re definitely a handful and they don’t always listen to me. The most recent example of my family failing to do as I say and acting like morons (for lack of a better word) was yesterday.

My husband and my three children were kicking the football inside the hotel room. I warned them at least five times to stop what they were doing and take the football down to the pool area, but of course, they didn’t listen. Instead, my husband kicked the ball too hard for my youngest child to catch it and it hit the window and cracked it. My husband genuinely cracked the glass in a hotel room costing us $500 per night. It’s safe to say that I’m furious. 

I refused to talk to the hotel staff about it and made my husband walk downstairs with my children to tell them we need a glass repair. Melbourne hotels are some of the best in Australia, so when they asked us how the glass cracked we had to lie. If they had found out what we were doing we would have been kicked out of the hotel. Instead, we agreed to have the glass repaired and they moved us to a different room. 

As we were moving all our belongings from the top floor to halfway down the building, I was very aware of the glass stairs. My family were all carrying a suitcase each and the wheels were often hitting the sides of the stairs. I was just praying that a wheel wouldn’t hit the stairs too hard and put another crack in the glass. The last thing we need is to pay for a stair balustrade on top of the glass repair.

I just wish my husband, and my kids to a lesser extent, would grow up. This could have been so preventable.  

Office Designer Breakfast

I’ve got to say, getting cafe guests to post on this website is a brilliant idea. I feel really honoured to be sitting here, on the Johnny’s Cafe computer, writing this post. I suppose I should give a little bit of information about myself before we go any further. My name is Mark and I decided to come to this cafe today because the reviews are so fantastic. I ordered the egg’s benedict, my favourite breakfast of all time because I’ve got a big day at work today. I work in office space design across Melbourne, helping offices look more like space every day. It’s a scientific fact that people feel calmer in space, which is why my business is so successful.

Why do I have such a busy day at work today? It’s because I’m up for a big promotion. I’ve helped over a hundred offices achieve their desired appearance, meaning I get to chat with the boss about moving up in the company. I’ve heard rumours that we actually provide more than just space offices, but I’m not sure they’re true. Either way, I just hope to start moving up in my career, because I’ve been in my current position for a while now.

I’d been hearing for a while that Johnny’s Cafe is one of the best cafes in Melbourne. Office fitout considerations can take quite a toll, so I figured it was time to get a good pick-me-up in the morning, with a delicious breakfast and a coffee. I definitely don’t regret coming here. It’s been the perfect start to my day. Hopefully it will be a bit of a good-luck charm, getting me that big promotion. If that’s what happens, I think I’ll be coming here every day!

Thanks heaps to Johnny for inviting me to make a post on the website. I feel really honoured to be part of its history.

– Mark

Cafe Survey

I’ve been asked to make a post on this blog as a kind of digital footprint of my time at Johnny’s Cafe. I’m not very creative, so I think I’ll just answer the provided questions.

Question 1: What is your name?

My name is Jessica Westerly, and although this question didn’t ask it, I work as a freelance digital designer. I know I said I’m not very creative, and that does sound like a creative job, but I meant more in the writing sense. 

Question 2: Why have you come to Johnny’s Cafe today?

I’m not from this area, but I recently went to an auto electrician close to Milperra and got a glowing recommendation for this place. So, on my day off, I decided to come and take a look. And I like what I see!

Question 3: What did you order at the cafe? What did you think?

I ordered the fresh salmon benedict, which was absolutely divine. Of course, I got a coffee as well. Smooth-blended vanilla cappuccino with a mint twist, whatever that means. It was really nice, though. I’ll definitely be coming back.

Question 4: What are your plans for the rest of the day?

I have to find a good mechanic near me, because my car is playing up again. Who knows, maybe while I’m there, I’ll be able to give someone a recommendation for this place. It’ll be a cycle of publicity. Heavens know Johnny deserves it! I think he’s earned himself another regular in me.

Question 5: If you could have one superpower, what would it be?

I’d definitely have the power of flight, so that I don’t have to deal with my terrible car anymore. Besides, flight is one of the required superpowers to get you accepted into the Superhero Training Academy. Who wouldn’t want to fly everywhere and anywhere? The cold might be an issue, but I’m sure I could make it work.

Thanks so much for getting me to do this, Johnny. I had a great time, and can’t wait to post to your blog again!

Electricians Galore

Ideally, there would be a bit less noise. A new hairdresser has finally moved in next door, and while it’s nice to have a full complement of shops again (more business for everyone), I don’t know what kind of renovation is happening in there. The old studio was nice! It was fine! But apparently it all has to be ripped up and torn out and replaced with…whatever it’s being replaced with. And the walls are paper thin, so we hear everything. It doesn’t make for the most relaxing atmosphere to drink coffee, in this cafe where we strive for the perfect atmosphere.

And the electricians… wow. I think they must have just made twenty calls requesting every single one of their fellow professional electricians Bayside has to spare (plus a few more from the surrounding areas) to come on over. The more the merrier.

It’s definitely going to be a hairdresser in there, as opposed to an internet cafe, or a virtual reality suite, so why they need a steady stream of electricians is beyond me. At the very least, most of them come in here every single day for coffee and lunch, so we’ve got stacks of custom. Must remind Helga to make more cheese and ham toasties…they tend to sell out really fast when a hundred workmen come tromping in. Wouldn’t be a problem if Helga didn’t enchant them with some kind of spell to make a simple sandwich irresistibly delicious. Our display fridge is nearly cleaned out by 1pm each day now.

Johnny is going to have a lot of catching up to do when he finally returns. Maybe he’ll come back to find that we now work next to a fully-automated hairdresser, with robots that greet you at the door and automated hair stylers. That would explain why commercial electrical expertise was needed by the truckload. Jury’s out on the pneumatic drill thing, though. What are they doing…?


Brick is In

Brick is so in right now. Brick is this year’s drywall, whereas last year’s drywall was the previous year’s…wait, what was I talking about again?

Yeah, brick. Every cafe has brick now. Brick is a hot commodity like no other. Like how you can’t really have a single cafe in Melbourne that doesn’t serve avocado and poached egg on sourdough toast, and it has to arrive on a wooden chopping board. Wooden chopping boards are this year’s plates.

I was talking about…brick, yeah, I remember. I keep raising it at staff meetings, but they keep giving me the same answer: the walls aren’t brick. They’re regular wallpaper. But did you know you can get digital print brick effect wallpaper now? That’s like the best of both worlds. You can have what looks like a brick wall, but you can also drill into it and hang pictures and whatever else. I had it done in my room at home, because brick is just so great that it even works for bedroom. Every time I glance over at the wall I’m overcome with a rustic sense of a simpler time, before everyone decided that all walls should be a neutral white. Feature walls are great, and with the digital wallpaper revolution, you can have whatever you like without having to apply coats of heavy paint.

Just saying. We could have a FEATURE brick wall, and it’d be easy to apply. Not that the cafe is doing badly, given that we basically have a monopoly on the area and people have nowhere else to go, but I just think that some brick would go real nice over on the far wall. A nice bit of rustic, vintage wallpaper to go along with our wooden chopping boards and oaken countertops. There are companies in Melbourne that print custom wallpaper with whatever pattern you like. Patterns like…bees. And cacti. And brick.


…sorry, Brandon.

Bathroom, Definitely Just for Customers

First we got the kitchens designed, and now the bathrooms. Of course, we STILL haven’t opened the upper mezzanine level, but apparently there’s been some problem with asbestos. I really don’t know…it’s a saga.

Still, the bathroom…wow. No complaints here. In fact, my only complaints will be that word will spread about how nice they are, and everyone will start trying to use them without being customers. We already have all the shops in this strip using us as their break-room, even though they mostly do make purchases (Dorabella from the knitting shop next door is an exception, because she’s an absolute dear). But now, we have the nicest bathroom for miles. We just need to stop standing out so much.

I mean it! We just had to seek out Melbourne’s best bathroom renovators, meaning that people have even more of a reason to come to the cafe. I’ll have to tell Olga to start making her brownies with a bit more flour than necessary. People won’t eat as many if they’re a bit dry.

That’s a joke, of course, because suggesting that Olga alter her baking methods in any way at all is grounds for blazing rage, and possibly a few missing teeth. And to be honest, I’m not sure I could live without her roast potato soup every day for my lunch.

Alright, so…we need some competition. Another cafe, with some really nice bathroom design. Nicer than ours in fact, so that way they actually have an edge and people have a reason to visit. But then, I’m not sure if there are bathroom renovations near Melbourne better than ours. Seriously, we could put tables and chairs in there and people would be happy to sit there, drinking coffee and chatting.

Except…you know, that would defeat the purpose of it being a private space, for the call of nature.


My Brand New Kitchen!!

It’s…beautiful. There are no other words for it. I walked into the kitchen today fully-prepared, but I couldn’t have prepared myself for something quite this good. And you can trust me on this, because I’ve had six children and none of them got this reaction out of me.

The kitchen is now a REAL kitchen. It’s even bigger than my one at home, and a lot more industrial, so I cannot WAIT to get started on cooking! We have an industrial-strength oven, and industrial-strength dishwasher…it’s all so powerful, sleek and shiny. And to think, this all came about via an anonymous donation.

Obviously, designer kitchen renovations were the first thing we thought of. Or rather, I…uh, forcefully stated that it was something we needed a bit more than the balcony. Now it almost looks a bit comical, this homely cafe with a relaxed vibe, and then you step into the kitchen and it’s like you’ve walked into the back of a three hatted restaurant. Quite the contrast, but I’m glad we chose the option!

And it’s what the mysterious person would’ve wanted, I think. They left a message with their anonymous donation saying that with the cafe being such a lovely place in the middle of nowhere, a meeting place for many, and also with Johnny having to deal with the whole abandoned child business, they wanted to give something back. So it’s probably a regular, but almost everyone is a regular, so that doesn’t help much. But if they DO come to the cafe, then they’ll want the most magnificent kitchen design Melbourne residents have ever laid their eyes on. The better the kitchen, the more plentiful and wonderful the goods flowing from it. No doubt my pastries, cakes and cookies will be twice as good now that our kitchen extensions have made things so much better. Well…maybe. It’s hard to improve on perfection, but miracles do happen.


Hairdressers, and Their Fluid Movements

One-and-a-half years into a psychology class, and I’m already basically a mental ninja. I can tell you ALL of your secrets, just from one conversation. I can evaluate a person’s mental state from how they drink their coffee. Their profession, by the very motion of them buttering their banana bread, or something whether they butter their banana bread at all, because if you’ve ever tasted or even looked at Olga’s special recipe, you know…there’s enough moist goodness in there already.

So when I’m not on the coffee machine, I’m often trying to people-watch with everyone that comes in here. Using my skills, you know. Sharpening my mind for when I’m fully-trained and I’m doing this for a job.

Just the other day I saw a girl drinking coffee and I thought she must be a hairdresser. St James’ place has a pretty well known salon that I’d been to a lot recently. I had to stop in because I was meeting a blind date and I suddenly got really paranoid about how my hair looked. Anyway, I noted the delicate movements used by hairdressers. You know the kind…they’re the ones you use when you’re incredibly experienced in doing something, and you do it with a casual, expert air. You know when hairdressers grab tufts of hair between their fingers and scissor them off? Perfect example of the motion. I observed, and I learned, and the date didn’t go so well (she was vegan, so all my restaurant options were out), but I feel like I learned a lot anyway. I saw this girl drinking coffee with her delicate touch and casual excellence, and I thought…hairdresser. Got to be.

So, anyway, she turned out to be a locksmith, but there are a LOT of transferable skills there, and she could easily transition into a hair salon. Melbourne has so many fantastic courses and training for hairdressing, anyone interested in the profession is spoiled for choice. If she so desired I’m sure she would make a very successful hair stylist. I’m still learning, so there’s room for error. Unlike when I’m a fully-fledged psychiatrist, when I’ll be a flawless mental mind ninja.