Chatting to the Pirate

boat catchesWe’re not particularly near the ocean, so it’s not often we get sailors in here. I imagine they have all their dock cafes and such, where they have low-priced food for lunch. Hmp

But it’s not my place to judge. I mean, I WILL judge, silently, but it won’t get any further than that. Hopefully this fellow goes back and tells all his sailor friends, and they all come and get some REAL food from someone who actually knows how to cook. And yet, somehow I doubt it…honestly the effort I put into his panini, he’d BETTER come back, or else!

He talked a lot about his job, hence why I know. I had food items cooking in the kitchen, but it took me a good fifteen minutes just to serve his coffee because he had an opinion on the marine trailer repairs industry and how materials have been hard to find, and how not as many people are casually sailing as they used to, and how he thinks the entire sailing industry has reached a point where people’s priorities have changed and it’s just terrible. For some reason. Now, I don’t usually have a problem giving anyone some serious side-eye when they’re wasting my time, but Johnny said that I need to tone it down when I’m talking to the customers. Oh, so they can waste my time with impunity? Yep, that sounds fair. Customer service, seriously…

So here I was, smiling through my teeth at the grizzled guy drinking his coffee and talking like he’d just stepped out of the golden age of piracy. To be fair, I love the sea. I grew up near Lorne, even had a little boat of my own: the Moon Princess, because I was very young and didn’t know how to name things. Also, it never actually sailed; I just got in it and pretended it did. Not that I was adverse to actual sailing. It was always something I enjoyed, hence why I couldn’t help be interested in all this boat posturing. How annoying.

But food called, I excused myself and the grizzled sea captain eventually up and left. Made me wonder how all that stuff was going down at the docks in Melbourne, with the trailer repairs and the boat catches. I should take a day off and check out the docks…


Nice Building, I Didn’t Do It!

concrete render contactorI get a lot of compliments on the building. And to that, all I can say is…thanks! I did it myself!

That’s a lie, obviously. I might know my way around the handle of a saw, and MAYBE I could operate a concrete mixer if I tried hard enough, but to make the outside of the café look all…finished? And burgundy? That wasn’t me. You’d be surprised by how many services there are around Melbourne to get done pretty much whatever you want. I didn’t really think about double-glazing for a while, but when I was having it installed, there was a place that did it just around the corner! Guess it’s just something you don’t look at until you need it.

I didn’t even know that there were places that did house rendering in Melbourne until I was maybe half done on the place. I was looking for ways to make the whole café really stand out. Really…’pop’, as they say. I couldn’t stand the sight of those ones you find next to petrol stations with the big glass windows and flashing neon signs, so I based everything on whatever the opposite of that one. A friend on Visage-Tome suggested rendering, which sounded pretty good. It was a bit of a dip into the budget, particularly considering that it wasn’t really necessary as such, but I was SO determined to make this the best café around for miles, so I dipped into the savings. I don’t regret it; burgundy is my favourite colour, so here I am with a burgundy business. Feels good.

In fact, that was the same process for getting the beams varnished, or the whole nautical theme that you can find lightly scattered around the place. Not really necessary, but it was all for the sake of the grand opening so I was willing to make the sacrifice. Totally don’t regret the concrete rendering, Melbourne tradespeople can do things my puny DIY skills can’t dream of…


A Tick From the Health Inspector

Australian food packaging standardsI suppose this is a useful feature. I’m not here to drink coffee or relax, because I’m here for work. I’m a food inspector, and I don’t usually sign guestbooks but…it’s a rare time when I’m fairly pleased with what I’m seeing.

The place is kept very clean, no messes on the tables (except straight after customers have made them) and there’s actually a really decent selection of sauces, all of which are in date. I’m a real sauce fan, so I was looking out for that, even in a cafe. I mean, no one’s going to put sauce in their coffee. That would be obscene.

Now, food packaging is usually an area I dread, since it’s almost always done correctly in some way. I have contacts in several food packaging companies in Australia, so I know exactly what is available where, and some folks try to bluff their way out of it by saying that their poor wrapping was the fault of their local company. Usually I have to send them off the a food processing and packing seminar, with the stipulation that they would not be shut down. This time, I was fairly surprised. The owner of the establishment seemed to have taken this seminar already, because the food was perfectly wrapped. In fact, I’m told that the folks who work here are held to a high standard when it comes to wrapping, so I suppose I can give the establishment a check for this one. A rare check indeed.

The rest of the building was fairly in place, though the level of dust on the overhead beams perhaps needed work. I did also find a discarded chocolate log down the back of the refrigerator, but there was no mould to speak of, so perhaps I can overlook it.

Overall, a high rating. I have hope for further Australian food packaging, at least until my next cafe…


Beaches, Not All Equal

beauty of LorneIt’s times like this, when I’m really relaxed, that I think about the beach. I grew up in Port Douglas, which is a really tourist-heavy beach town, so I always felt just a little bit above the people who just came there on holiday. I knew every inch of the place, of course. Fortunately I’ve grown up a bit since then, and I can’t really feel superior since I moved all the way down to Melbourne for work. Reaping the consequences of that now that it’s winter…

But here in the café, Johnny’s obviously intending for a kind of nautical theme. I like how the tip jar is shaped like a lighthouse, and the exposed wooden beams really make me think of a sailing ship. My friend still back in Port Douglas told me to go on a beach holiday if I was feeling too homesick. All signs point to Lorne, accommodation luxury and the world class beaches are…sandy. But as sandy and luxury as the whole place is, I doubt it can replicate a Port Douglas winter, which is amazing by the way (hovering around 25, no jellyfish or sharks, clouds are a rarity). But yeah, again, if I was really missing that stuff I wouldn’t have come to Melbourne of all places. Sometimes in life, you have to sacrifice some things, and weather has become one of them for me. I certainly wasn’t finding a real job up there, unless I wanted to work in my friend’s surf and beach trinkets shop. Not that it wouldn’t be fun, but it’s not really a mega career starter. Man, growing up really sucks.

Still, here I am. Better make the most of it, confirm that St Kilda’s beach is really as bad as everyone says it is and then…I dunno, maybe genuinely look into accommodation. My company needs things like Lorne function venues, so I don’t know…maybe I can nudge them into a beach retreat and I can score it all for free. Still, it’s nice that I have a café that reminds me a bit of home. Great coffee, too.


The psychology of painting cafes

exterior house paintersJohnny called the painters in. I was rather shocked that he didn’t first consult me about it. He may be the owner but I’m the manager of this cafe, and there’s a reason for that. You can’t just call people in to do renos on the place without first making the relevant considerations. For example, you wouldn’t just go out and get yourself a wedding suit without first considering what the bridesmaids and groomsmen will be wearing, would you? No. As for redecorating and refurbishing a cafe, this is a delicate and complex operation. I mean, our business depends upon the happiness and adoration of our customers. Painters in Melbourne will do a good job no matter what, but you’ve got to know how to direct them. That’s where I come in.

While I was researching about decorating cafes and restaurants, I discovered many interesting facts about colours and the psyche. I’m sure many of you are aware that cool colours create space and calm feelings whereas warm colours produce a cosy vice. Well, it actually goes much deeper than that. Did you know that green has the effect of causing people to crave caffeine? That’s why we have so many plants in the cafe, so that people feel the need to up-size their coffees. And lilac actually makes people hungrier, especially for whole foods and nutritious condiments. We got the exterior house painters based in Melbourne to do facade tangerine, because it has the psychological effect of drawing people in, like bees to the hive.

To think that Johnny was going to go ahead and ok the colours of the painters without these things in mine. He was going to use a dark maroon for the front, which has been shown to deter patronage in bars, cafes and pubs. We would so be out of business right now. 

Our Secretly Famous Guest

specialist makeup coursesA guestbook seemed like a good idea, at first. I know, I’m probably laying it on a bit thick with all the ‘we’re new, tell us all about what we’re doing wrong!’ business, but I really wanted this to be a café of democracy. I have so many more related ideas…you wouldn’t believe how many I’m sitting on. But anyway, the guestbook seemed great until people stopped taking it seriously. Mostly the regulars, I might add, who I’m otherwise very fond of for all the business.

So, back to the drawing board. I still get pretty interesting ones though, since I encourage people to tell me a bit about themselves. One guy came in, polite and friendly and normal looking as anything, but I remember him because he was new. Also, really tall and well-dressed, like…sort of Japanese fashion? Turns out he was a very famous specialist makeup course teacher from Brisbane, down as a special guest for the debut performance of one of his students. Or whatever you call it when a makeup artist makes a debut. It was for that new musical, Wannabes, about that gang in Scotland who are desperately trying to be known as the ‘cool’ kids but keep doing things that make their local community love them instead, because deep down they’re all pretty decent folks. My sister went to see it and she said she was in stitches, so that explains all the hype.

Hearing about a makeup course teacher coming all the way down from Brisbane makes me think of some wise Kung Fu master coming to watch the tournament of his favourite student. Maybe that’s just my imagination running away with me. Still, it’s a fun image. And he was in my café! I looked him up, and you can read about him online. Maybe this is our very first celebrity ever!

So meeting famous beautician course teachers is one really good use of the guestbook, if people actually get to signing it. It’s not as interesting or useful when the regulars leave rude drawings. The public sees this stuff, guys!