05/03/2008 - 22:00

Change brewing for Mooba

05/03/2008 - 22:00

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Combining a simple idea with a calculated entrepreneurial flair has led the owners of Wembleybased cafe, Mooba, to grow their business concept with the opening of a new store in Subiaco.

Change brewing for Mooba

Combining a simple idea with a calculated entrepreneurial flair has led the owners of Wembleybased cafe, Mooba, to grow their business concept with the opening of a new store in Subiaco.

Mark Dillon and his wife, Shannon Hamilton, say they knew nothing about the hospitality industry when they decided to open a cafe in December 2006.

 Just more than a year down the track, the success of Mooba Wembley, located on the corner of Jersey Street and Cambridge Street, has prompted the couple to open a new venture as part of the Railway 18 development in Subiaco. “The property developers who look after this site [Ph3 Property Group] have their coffee here, and they approached us to open a Mooba in one of the stores of their new development,” Mr Dillon told Gusto.

 While Mooba Wembley is a kiosk alongside the shopping centre, the Subiaco store will be housed within the Railway Road development. Mr Dillon says they aimed to keep the Mooba Wembley concept as simple as possible – all the drinks are served in a takeaway format but the customers are welcome to sit at a table or on the steps covered with cushions. As Wembley locals, Mr Dillon and Ms Hamilton were aware of the need for a community hub to be open in the area to provide a meeting place for local families and shoppers.

“My wife and I never worked in that industry before. We really wanted to do it and we found a coffee company, Five Senses, which would roast our own blend,” he says.

“We created Mooba in a blank space; it was the spot where everyone used to congregate to smoke. “Now we sell 400 to 500 cups of coffee a day here.”

Initially, Mr Dillon feared that stepping into the hospitality business would come with overwhelming challenges, including difficulty in sourcing staff.

“We started off in December by hiring five staff members, quickly moved to six; we now have 10 staff and there wasn’t any turnover in that period,” he says.

Mr Dillon, who works in the export business, and Mrs Hamilton, an artist, maintained their professional lives while operating the cafe, deciding to run it under management and encourage their staff to take ownership of the business.

 “They [the staff] don’t have to have an ogre owner on top of them...Mooba is as much theirs as it is mine,” Mr Dillon says. The couple have tried to involve all the staff by implementing their ideas and stepping back during busy service times.

 The owners even join the queue, with the other customers, if they want to buy a coffee. To avoid too long a wait in line, however, the cafe introduced an SMS service so customers can order their coffee by text message.

 The popular service now deals with a minimum of 60 SMS orders a day.

 “At the cafe, our customers would still order when they are told that there is a 40-minute wait, but we wanted to reduce the visual impact of having a crowd of people waiting there,” Mr Dillon says.

He says up to $200,000 was spent setting up the cafe, but expects it will be easier and cheaper to reproduce the concept in a similar area next time, although he is not expecting to franchise Mooba any time soon.

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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