The key to a coffee recovery

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As Adelaide’s cafe scene matures, some well-known businesses are changing hands from their original owners. CityMag spoke to the new owners of Mascavado, Sibling and Joe’s in Henley about how to take over a venue without ruining it.

When accomplished hotel operator Daniel Milky, founder of the Argo brand, recently took over Hutt Street Mascavado Bakery, he knew the core business had to be maintained.

Mascavado, in his understanding, is less about “bustling” and more about taking the time to “sit down and enjoy a pastry.”

“It’s more bring a book, sit down, enjoy, relax,” he says.

The cafe was founded by pastry chef Lea Chairesa in early 2020, so it was important that the business, under new management, continued its commitment to craftsmanship.

The benefit of taking over a place where staff talent has been nurtured, says Daniel, is that you have a new well of knowledge to draw from.

“You can go with your own ideas, but be open-minded, you might learn something from the team of people you know nothing about – and from a store that was working before you even got there – low,” he said.

“So, you know, be thankful that the business already exists and you get a shortcut, effectively.”

Daniel Milky working the soil in 2016. This photo: Jules Cebo

Daniel says he gave the pastry chefs at Mascavado a license to “go wild and do whatever they want.”

“We have special weekends every week now because it’s like, ‘Go explore, go do whatever you want to do,'” he says.

There’s also an art to carrying on a company’s legacy while giving it a personal touch.

“You have to know how to do everything, but it won’t help anyone if you try to be the champion for everyone,” he says.

“It’s really simple things, but sometimes it can be missed because [the previous owners] there were so many.

“I think you have to be willing to accept that the way things used to work might not be the way you like things to work.”

Sit back, relax, explain to your dogs why they can’t eat pastries. This photo: Jon Wah

At Café Gilles Street Sibling (one of our favorite cafes to watch fashion), Jimmy Barry says his purchase of the business from its former owners went smoothly.

Brother and Sister is his first time as an owner, and he was more than happy to opt for the pressure of taking over an established brand rather than starting from scratch.

“It’s made things so much easier knowing you’re assured people are walking through your doors,” says Jimmy.

Although the cafe previously offered mostly vegan options, Jimmy relied on his previous experience in the hospitality industry to decide to expand the offering.

“It used to be almost an all-vegan menu, but we changed it so that there were only a lot of vegan options and we just tried to include everyone,” says Jimmy.

“I’ve worked in many different cafes and I’d like to think I have a sense of what works and what doesn’t. I know what’s popular, and things like bacon and deli meats and stuff like that – people love it, and it worked.

Jimmy on tools at Sibling. This photo: Thomas McCammon

Adelaide bar and restaurant group Penny Hospitality has grown its stable significantly over the past 12 months, but in 2020 it was still a fledgling operation with just a few businesses under its belt, one of which was the popular Joe’s Kiosk.

Joe’s was more than a kiosk for local Henley customers – it was a symbol of the community on the waterfront.

When Penny Hospitality general manager Hugo Pedler began making changes to the site in March 2020, regulars weren’t impressed at all with the idea of ​​a new era for Joe’s.

“Change for anyone is difficult. You’re always going to offend people when you start switching things up, especially when they’ve had a routine with something like Joe’s,” Hugo says.

“You’re always going to be pushed back by some people, but at the same time you’re balancing that with a really exciting opportunity to bring a whole new range of people to come on the scene and experience what they haven’t done before. .”

Hugo at Joe’s. This photo: Johnny von Einem

There were little things Hugo could do to try to keep Joe’s regulars on his side.

“You know, we kept the ice fridge!” Hugo said.

“They’re still there, you know – they’ve always kept the heart and soul of what the bandstand was offering, and now they’re a big part of us.

“It’s a challenge on the one hand, but it’s also a great opportunity on the other, and when you have an established business like that, it’s really crucial for you not to destroy what has been built before.”

Under Hugo’s leadership, Joe’s introduced Pilates classes on the beach, paint-and-sip events, and the weekly Wednesday morning swim group, Salty Sippers.

Picking up the successes of the old business allows a new owner to create a new legacy, sometimes for an extended community.

Connect with current-era Mascavado, Sibling and Joe’s on Instagram.

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