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.
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.
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.
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.
There’s always a nice community buzz whenever someone moves in around here. Part of what I like about the place, I think. Of course, it’s also the type of place where nobody ever leaves, so it’s doubly exciting for everyone. There’s that lovely old dear in the knitting supplies shop next door, the real estate agents, the alternative groceries and healing crystals shop…and now, some podiatrists. Very nice people as well; they’ve already started using the cafe as their personal breakroom, just like everyone else.
Used to know some foot specialists in Cheltenham, where my family first moved when we left Ukraine. This was years ago, so they’re probably all gone now. I remember being six years old and quite taken with the idea of someone JUST looking at feet for a job. Not sure we had that kind of thing where I was from. You just went to a doctor and you said what was wrong with you, and to be honest they usually just gave you a cream. There was some kind of…obsession with ointments while I was growing up.
I suppose seeing that Australia has podiatrists – actual people who dealt with feet, and foot problems – is a sign that we’ve moved to a better place. Or at least, a much richer place. That one is definitely true, or at least it WAS. Anyway, there’s a new podiatrist opened, they seem nice, and everyone is talking about it because of course they are, it’s new. New people, new office…and most people are never going to actually need treatment for foot fungus, or arch support insoles. But still, it’s the talk of the town for now. So long as the foot fungus talk doesn’t take over the cafe. It’s hard to enjoy a nice coffee while someone is chatting away about ingrown toenails. It’s the kind of thing that puts people off their vanilla slices…and I don’t lightly forgive anyone who doesn’t finish what’s on their plate, after I MADE it.
First rule of Johnny’s Café: talk about Johnny’s Café!
Yep, tell all your friends. Spread the word. Exalt the coffee bean choices.
Second rule of Johnny’s Café: do not talk about the kitchen!
Alas, it is true. We keep the kitchen clean, and it’s the one part of the building that none of the customers see, thank goodness. But it’s something of a sore point that we’ve never had the money to get it updated. There’s barely enough workspace for all the preparation and cooking, and honestly I think the stoves aren’t as powerful as they should be. And the oven is tiny. That’s why I bake all the goods at home and bring them in, ready to present.
Johnny has spent so long making the presentable parts of the café look fab that we haven’t really had the time to look into kitchen installation and renovation. And it’s the type of thing that…well, if you saw it, you’d know what we mean. It needs a serious facelift. Not just a facelift: we need a new kitchen, period. Maybe extend out into the garden a little bit, or a lot, because there’s barely enough room in there for three people and there’s only so much dancing on the edge of the disaster we can do before someone’s elbow gets bumped, and a beautifully-prepared brunch gets fed to the ground. Or a sleeve catches fire, smoke comes pouring out, there’s a visit from the safety inspector and they tell us in no uncertain terms that we need a new kitchen, or it’s curtains for the café.
And curtains in the kitchen are almost certainly a fire hazard as well, so…no curtains for the kitchen. Renovations for the kitchen. Melbourne’s best kitchen renovations. I could use the space for my baking, and everyone else could use it for their sanity while they work. Small spaces heat up quick, you know. And when temperatures are high, tempers are high, and people start setting fire to each other on purpose.
It’s actually not weird, going to a cafe by yourself. I noticed that today, after stressing about it for my first few visits. I’ve always just come here with my wife, but now that I’m actually here by myself, I see plenty of people just here on their own. They’re on their phones, reading a book, typing away on laptops…it’s fine. So that’s good to know, because I’ve seriously been needing some quality time away from the house. Debbie has been a little stressed at home, and with work the way it is…well, anyway. It can get busy here, but it’s always quiet.
That’s great, because I’ve still got stuff to do. The car isn’t exactly roadworthy…and I know I can get an RACV inspection in Mitcham, which isn’t TOO far, but then there’s the little issue of risking it to get there. I bet I could get a callout, but that’s more expensive and Debbie probably wouldn’t like that. We’re scrounging for the pennies at the moment, so spending extra money on the car…yeah, probably not a good idea. Maybe I can call Harry and get him to tow me. He’ll probably say i owe him, which I will, but that’s tomorrow’s problem. I bet they’re going to find problems with the brakes as well, because there ARE problems with the brakes. I’ve known that for ages, ever since I skidded through that red light and got the fine, which Debbie was ALSO not happy about. It’d been raining, but still, most cars can stop in good time even if there’s water on the road.
So…might have to dip into the budget for a car brake service. I’m pretty sure there are mechanics who can take care of my car brake service. Ringwood has a mechanic that I once got a roadworthy through, I wonder if they do brake repairs?
At least it’ll only be one trip. Funnily enough, I’m not stressed about any of this. I’ll work a bit more, and maybe drink less coffee. That’s fine. Just BEING in this cafe is a stress-reliever, for real.
To be perfectly honest, I’ve never been in a café with a nautical theme that I liked. I know that sounds like I’m being discriminatory against sailors and the sea life, but I’m really not. Maybe I’m slightly biased against cafes in coastal towns, but only if they try to dress themselves up like they’re the inside of a ship. Like, just…knock it off. We all know you picked up that ship’s wheel on G-Buy, and the anchor is probably from the gift shop next door.
I’ve no idea why I find the idea so tacky, but anytime anyone suggests something like that for this place, I just have to try to put my foot down. Fortunately, Johnny doesn’t seem too enthused with the idea either. Well, it’s that, and we’re mostly landlocked here. We can try to appeal to workmen in Melbourne servicing outboard motor repairs or whatever but I don’t think we’ll get many in.
Actually, I think my dislike of fake marine stuff might be from when I grew up in Mornington. I was an actual sea kid- in by boat, rain or shine. Always wanted to get a larger boat and go sailing, but then we moved away from the coast and I haven’t had the time or money to go boating ever since. Guess seeing all the memorabilia whilst it’s not connected to anything- or being flaunted by people who don’t understand that world- just really irritates me. Irrationally, I will admit.
Maybe I should just get over it. If you’ve repurposed an anchor winch and are using is as a flashy counter decoration for your café, I should learn to live with it. It’s not like I ever actually managed to break into Melbourne’s marine industry anyway. The people in Melbourne who do outboard motor repairs and all that are just a hardier sort. I bet they’d absolutely hate their craft being used as cheap decorations. And then there’s me…the guy making coffee who can’t let go of the past. I don’t really have the right to get mad over much.
One thing I’ll say about Johnny: he does nothing in half measures. He took a few weeks off to deal with that whole issue of a child being dumped at his doorstep, and now he’s back with a thousand ideas for the cafe. It’s like he was on a relaxing Parisian holiday instead of dealing with a major life change.
So now he wants to convert the loft space into an extra bit of seating, creating a multi-layer cafe. It’s ambitious, but he came to the staff meeting armed with blueprints and everything. Says he wants it to be really swish, so we’re going for glass balustrades and everything. Apparently he knows a guy, who knows a guy, who knows someone who can do some quality glazier services. Okay…I just smile and nod a lot of the time when this kind of thing gets brought up. I’m not a visual learner and I have a lot of trouble envisioning things. I know we have some loft space that isn’t really being used for anything, and I can sort of see how- if you knock down the wall, clean out the space, do a whole lot of dusting, add some artwork, new flooring, and of course an actual stairwell instead of just a ladder- you could make a really nice little space. Not sure about the glass balustrading though. I thought we already got rid of the decorative glass guy a few weeks ago, but here we are, discussing glaziers. I hope Johnny didn’t actually want some decorative glass, because I don’t think he’s coming back.
So now we have a mad little idea from the man himself. We DO need more sitting space; often people just walk in and walk out, even when we can use the outdoor seating. The extra room along with the chic appeal of the upstairs space could do wonders. I’ve absolutely no idea how any of it is going to get done though. I’m not a residential glazier…I just make the coffee. And look after the cat that the cafe now basically owns. Just showed up one day; has a collar, but I don’t think it actually has a home. But who calls a cat ‘Tabby Crawshaw’ anyway?
Sometimes I’m serving and I just think…I shouldn’t be hearing this. I mean that people come in here and talk about sensitive stuff at the top of their lungs, and I never know what to do. Ask them to stop? Walk around with a suspiciously-blank look on my face to make it seem as if I don’t care? Johnny would know what to do, but…well, he’s busy now. I hope he’s back soon though, because it turns out this cafe is a magnet for weird, and I can only take so much.
Doesn’t help that I have the memory of an elephant. A couple of people had clearly come from court, or somewhere similar. Talking about how they were going to have to hire business lawyers from Melbourne since the case was getting out of hand, and I’m trying to put down the vanilla slices and cover my ears at the same time. Actually impossible, you know. So they’re talking about property law, and land acts, the meetings they’re going to have with the property lawyers, what their plan is moving forward with the firm…
Maybe they don’t care. Maybe it’s fine, and I’m just overreacting, but if you heard them talk, you’d think it sounded very secretive. And maybe it’s not. But maybe it IS. It SOUNDS very secretive. And if I’m hearing secrets that I’m not supposed to, perhaps people will come knocking on my door to try to find out what I know. Terrible people.
Maybe I should find an actual property lawyer who practices in Melbourne. I have this friend who does civil law, and she said that confidentiality in civil cases it totally different from criminal law, here everything has to be hushed up and people have to paint pictures inside the courtroom.
In the meantime, I’m just denying everything. I just serve coffee and vanilla slices, your honour. I don’t listen to private conversations like a *nosey* person.