Tiny restaurants and micro-cafes are Perth’s next big thing, news.com.au reports.
We’ve all come across those tiny little cubby-hole venues along the streets, crammed into whatever space they manage to find: narrow alleyways, between buildings, and on street corners. After the kitchen is set up, there is only room enough for a few tables dotted along the wall and spilling out onto the street, like a jigsaw puzzle haphazardly spliced and pieced back together again.
Flora & Fauna Cafe Facebook
These hole-in-the-wall eateries are a common sight in cities like Tokyo, Barcelona, Paris, and New York, but they’re only now springing up all over Australia, with Perth at the forefront. But don’t let their sizes deceive you — what these venues lack in volume, they make up for with quality.
“I thought it was too small but then the (leasing) agent opened up the window and I saw the potential,” Allison Côté, co-owner of Flora & Fauna Cafe in Northbridge, tells news.com.au.
“I realised right away I couldn’t do volume. I couldn’t hire a kitchen team. So we focused on quality.”
“There’s a trend for things to be quite boutique, rather than big places doing coffee and food,” Juliana Nobre, co-owner of Pixel Coffee Brewers in Leederville, agrees. “Prices are generally the same for food, so why not go somewhere where things are made in-house and more bespoke?”
Pixel Coffee Brewers Facebook
And being able to seat and serve at a limited capacity has its advantages. You can afford to focus on using fresh ingredients to produce quality dishes, while cutting costs from wastage and labour. The turnover for each dine-in guest is fast, and you can continue to serve customers getting takeaway the whole time. It’s a true low-risk, low-cost business model
“For me, it’s the first time I run a business so I don’t want a big risk,” says Changmin Jeon, owner of Korean-Mexican fusion street-food venue Mix. “This way, I can cover the risk economically, I don’t need too many employees, and I can get feedback from the customer straightaway.
“It’s small, so the owner can stay here. A big place needs a manager.”
Running a bustling business in such a small shop challenges owners and designers to utilise the limited amount of space economically — stacking shelves, creative seating options, moving things up, up, up the walls — while making sure customers don’t feel cramped inside. There is no such thing as wasted space.
Toffee Cafe Facebook
“You’re not paying for space that’s wasted. We utilise every bit of space possible,” Cads Caldcleugh-Johnson, owner of Toffee cafe in Equus Arcade, explains.
Are there any drawbacks to such a tiny establishment? As their reputations grow, you can be sure the queues and wait times will do the same, and the challenge may then shift to keeping up with consumer demand. But Rob Mayberry, the owner of Bookend, Perth’s smallest cafe on William Street, Northbridge, doesn’t seem fazed.
“If you get too busy you run out of seats,” he says. “But I’d rather have that than a big shop that’s only half full.”