Tony Liversage and Shane Roven bring two decades of experience to their new cafe in West Perth.
HALF-BROTHERS Tony Liversage and Shane Roven reckon they’re ‘living the dream’ serving their own brand of healthy fare to the junior mining fraternity in West Perth.
After spending the better part of two decades working alongside some of Australia’s most respected and experienced hospitality players, Akheele on Colin marks the men’s first venture on their own.
And seven months down the track both agree that establishing their own business, while challenging and stressful, has been extremely rewarding.
“It’s been a great lifestyle change,” Mr Liversage explains.
“We’ve been working shift-work for over 15 years, working nights and weekends, to now doing a daytime gig.”
Mr Roven says this year marked the first time he could spend the entire Easter holiday weekend with his nearly eight-year-old son, and attend his junior football matches on Saturday mornings, without worrying about cutting father-son time short to do a shift in the kitchen.
“It’s taken a long time to get used to it, as in, to become a normal person, so to speak,” Mr Roven told Gusto. “I’ve never had to worry about making myself a meal every night of the week before, so suddenly now I’ve got to think ‘what’s for dinner?’
“So those things have been awesome.”
And while they admit to bickering over certain aspects of the business, both suggest their brotherly bond allows for any temper tantrums to be quelled quite quickly.
The name Akheele (pronounced a-kee-lah) is derived from Yiddish and literally means ‘eating good food’. And that’s what they say Akheele is all about: serving simple, homemade food in a pleasant and timely manner.
Mr Roven completed his chef’s qualifications under the guidance of famed Fraser’s owner and head chef, Chris Taylor, which included working with some “gun chefs” who had came across from Observation City during Fraser’s first two years of operation.
Interestingly, Mr Liversage also spent eight years alongside Mr Taylor, suggesting the systems and processes utilised during his two years as restaurant manager at the popular Kings Park eatery were very beneficial to the Akheele business.
Mr Liversage explains he initially worked at Fraser’s as a food runner before Mr Taylor suggested he should travel and work to build up his hospitality experience.
Mr Liversage became manager at Fraser’s after returning to Perth with extensive hospitality experience and wine knowledge, following periods of work on local and interstate vintages (including Howard Park, Plantagenet and Rymill Estate in Coonawarra) and numerous placements nationwide, particularly in Queensland where he established, managed and operated venues of the calibre of Fraser’s.
“He (Chris Taylor) is someone who has been a massive mentor and the sommelier there (at Fraser’s); Patrick Salord, they’re both idolised in the trade,” Mr Liversage says.
Mr Roven agrees that Fraser’s was a great environment to learn and work in before he left to work and travel overseas amid stints at Linda Meade’s Fish House (now The Vic) and the North Beach Yacht Club (now Soda Sun Lounge).
“Chris Taylor as a reference opens big doors around Australia,” Mr Roven says.
The pair purchased the non-operational Citrus Courtyard Garden Café business for $80,000 last year, keeping fit-out costs down to about $30,000 thanks to family help painting the walls and planting trees.
And they say their near-impossible dream of expanding the lunch-focused premises into a small bar (in light of liquor licence requirements and bathroom extension issues with Akheele’s landlord) have been somewhat revived as lunching corporate mining players propose hospitality partnerships.
“The mining boys love it so there may be some possible partnerships in the future,” Mr Liversage says.