30/11/2011 - 11:05

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30/11/2011 - 11:05


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Michael Cheang is sticking to the plan at Frisk Espresso, which transforms from a coffee shop by day into an intimate bar and lounge by night. Carolyn Herbert reports.

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DRINKING IT IN: Michael Cheang studied computer science just long enough to know that he didn't want a career in it, so he opted for hospitality. Photo: Grant Currall

Michael Cheang is sticking to the plan at Frisk Espresso, which transforms from a coffee shop by day into an intimate bar and lounge by night. Carolyn Herbert reports.

FRISK Espresso is a funky cafe-style addition to Northbridge’s small bar scene.

Tucked away at the northern end of Francis Street, it features spray painted walls and recycled furniture, transforming from casual coffee shop by day into an intimate small bar by night. 

Frisk Espresso is the creation of Michael Cheang, a 29-year-old computer science graduate who decided at the age of 22 that he “never wanted to work with computers again”.

After his first hospitality job at The Subiaco Hotel, Mr Cheang decided he wanted to pursue a career in hospitality and one day own his own bar. 

He returned to Tafe to study hospitality and hotel management and went on to work in some of Perth’s largest hotels.

“Once I decided that hospitality was what I wanted to do, I set about getting as much experience as possible,” Mr Cheang told Gusto

After managing a couple of restaurants in 2009, Mr Cheang says he knew it was time to start looking for a suitable venue for his own small bar. 

“I knew I didn’t want to take anything over and I wanted to start from scratch, so I found this place which used to be an old office,” he says.

“I liked the location immediately; it’s in the quiet part of Northbridge, it has nice big windows, it’s next to a park and the people are more relaxed around here.”

Knowing the difficulties of obtaining a small bar licence in Northbridge, Mr Cheang decided to be strategic about the way he set up his business. 

“I wanted to run a small bar from the beginning but I knew it wouldn’t be easy to get a liquor licence, so I opened as a low-risk coffee shop and took things step by step,” he says. 

Frisk Espresso opened its doors as a coffee shop in September of last year, and it wasn’t until a year later that Mr Cheang was granted his small bar licence.

“I opened thinking it would be easy to get a licence but when I realised how hard it would be, I spent six months just writing the application and the next six months was the process,” Mr Cheang says.

“All-Australian products was something I wanted to promote heavily, such as local beers and wines, and I wasn’t going to have any live music or a dance floor; I wanted to create somewhere where people could come and drink and not be hassled.”

Mr Cheang told Gusto that supporting local producers is extremely important to him; he sources his coffee from local company 5 senses and buys his milk from Bannister Downs dairy in the South West.

Conscious of his business’s environmental impact, Mr Cheang says the majority of the furniture in Frisk is recycled and second hand and even the take-away coffee cups are recyclable and compostable.

“I’d say 90 per cent of the furniture would be second hand or recycled.  All the tables are hand-made from used wood, the railing around the bar is old skate rails and the lights are made from old plastic cartons,” he says. 

“I’ve thrown out a lot of stuff over the years and just from working in hospitality you see that there is so much waste, so I really wanted to be conscious of that.”

Another welcome addition to the venue is a pile of classic board games for patrons to enjoy.

“I thought if I just put a few board games in here it would encourage people to stay around and just hang out, and it has worked,” Mr Cheang says.

As Frisk Espresso only serves beverages, Mr Cheang has allowed his patrons to ‘BYO food’.

He has even formed a relationship with nearby steakhouse Lacker’s Grill, which delivers meals to his guests in the evening.

Mr Cheang says his next project is to design a tapas-style menu for Frisk.

“We don’t really have any food yet but that might come in my third year,’’ he says.

‘‘The first year was to establish myself as a coffee shop, the second year was the bar licence and third year is food. That’s the plan.’’


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