16/12/2013 - 10:59

Carbone’s healthy first shot

16/12/2013 - 10:59

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The hype around Victoria Carbone’s new Health Freak Cafe indicates one of two things, or maybe both – Perth is becoming more health-conscious, or a large number of punters partial to kale smoothies rather than caramel lattes are finally getting what they ordered.

Carbone’s healthy first shot
BULLISH: Frustrated by the lack of fit-friendly food options, Victoria Carbone has taken the bull by the horns and opened her own cafe. Photos: Attila Csaszar

The hype around Victoria Carbone’s new Health Freak Café indicates one of two things, or maybe both – Perth is becoming more health-conscious, or a large number of punters partial to kale smoothies rather than caramel lattes are finally getting what they ordered.

For the past three months at least, social media has been awash with anticipation about the opening last week of Ms Carbone’s first cafe.

It’s an ethereal excitement generated by Ms Carbone’s vision to establish a cafe catering to those seeking healthy alternatives and the peace of mind that comes with knowing exactly what’s in the food.

For example, the Health Freak menu indicates one serving of ‘Power Protein Pancakes’ contains 224 calories, 4 grams of fat and 14 grams of protein.

That may be too much information for some people, but Ms Carbone said a lack of information often led to people becoming unhealthy.

“If you go out for breakfast, no-one knows what they’re having; in eggs there’s often cream, which takes the calories up three times more than if you were just having the eggs alone,” Ms Carbone said.

A former accountant, Ms Carbone has an ambitious business plan aiming for five Health Freak Cafes across Perth in the first year, and another five every year thereafter.

Scarborough is the next planned location, while a new commercial kitchen will open in Mount Hawthorn shortly and four new chefs will take the total to eight in the New Year.

Already the Subiaco team is flat out coping with demand, with Ms Carbone quick to point out the clientele was not just fitness ‘freaks’.

“The majority of the people that have been coming here have been corporates,” she said.

“If you eat healthy food at lunchtime you’ll go and be more productive in the afternoon, but if you eat McDonald’s you’ll go back to work and feel sluggish and tired.”

The hype could easily be explained away by opening-week interest, but other Perth examples indicate the appetite for healthy alternatives is longer lasting.

The Raw Kitchen in Fremantle, for example, is undergoing expansion, and raw-food wholesaler Rawsome has grown its list of retailers to 85 (including interstate) since launching 16 months ago.

Meanwhile Solomon’s Café in Highgate is continuing to experience heavy customer demand since it opened mid-this year.

Solomon’s is the brainchild of one of Australia’s biggest hip hop artists – Drapht aka Paul Reid – and his sister, Alisa, and offers a full range of ‘free’ organic foods … dairy-free, gluten-free and processed sugar-free.

Mr Reid told Business News the initial interest in the cafe had endured.

“The last five months have felt more like five years, we seem to just be getting busier and busier,” Mr Reid said.

Costs are a major challenge for health-focused cafes in their quest to remain competitive, particularly when it comes to buying ingredients.

“I'm not going to lie, it has been tough, and even scary at points,” Mr Reid said.

“The price of organics can easily get up to three times more than conventional produce. A lot of people struggle to understand the nature of it all and feel like it’s just overpriced food with a fancy title.”

But Mr Reid is adamant demand will continue and the growing interest in healthy alternatives will remain, if not grow.

“I think you have to give it a bit more credit and worth than [than being a fad, such as] people popping their collars, or growing a beard,” he said.

“We live in a society that our community is used to getting exactly what they want, when they want it … people are understanding they deserve better.”

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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