22/04/2010 - 00:00

It’s not a long way to the shop ...

22/04/2010 - 00:00


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A little piece of yesteryear is making a comeback in Claremont. Emily Morgan reports.

It’s not a long way to the shop ...

POPPING down to the local suburban deli for some milk or a sausage roll has become a thing of the past in many suburbs, as local corner stores fall to the relentless march of the small supermarket chains and petrol/convenience outlets.

But for residents of Claremont, the convenience of the corner store is still alive, albeit with a fresh approach, at the Bay Road Pantry.

Jeff Lang and Greg Waddilove bought the Bay Road Pantry deli 18 months ago after convincing the previous owners of 10 years to sell it to them.

“I could see the location; this place was screaming out for new operators. I could see past the mess, and what I could do with the place,” Mr Lang told Gusto.

The deli has had a facelift and the humble pie now plays second fiddle to home-cooked meals and what Mr Lang refers to as ‘boutique coffee’, although the Bay Road Pantry still offers many of the traditional items associated with the corner store.

And the changes have paid off, with Mr Lang telling Gusto the business has already started to grow strongly.

“We have gone from using six kilos of coffee beans a week to 28kg,” Mr Lang says – an increase in sales of 2,200 cups of coffee.

And more coffees means more staff.

Mr Lang and Mr Waddilove now have 10 staff running the business including two chefs, floor staff and a barista – a marked increase from the previous owners who only had themselves and their son running the business.

Mr Lang says the business has attracted regulars of the previous operation, as well as new customers.

“Business people, the mums, the gym people from down the road, the kids from school in the afternoon and now we have the old folks home across the road,” he says.

“It is a good range, they start from the babycinos up to the 90 year olds.”

Mr Lang puts his success down to experience in the hospitality game and developing a winning formula over time.

“Good friendly service, be nice to your customers and be hands on; they love to see the owners and for them to remember their orders and their names. You go to the Domes and the Cinos (but) they are just staff; they don’t care if you come back, but owners do,” he says.

Mr Lang left New Zealand, where he grew up on a dairy farm, to start his hospitality career in Sydney, running the kitchen in his and Mr Waddilove’s Surrey Hills cafe, but moved to Perth after the pressure of the job wore him down.

“I think I burned out. I can remember sliding down the wall one day with about 50 breakfast orders in front of me and I just couldn’t do it. I have never really picked it up since that day and I became a barista,” Mr Lang says.

He has since owned two businesses in Perth and had a hands-on role managing both of them.

Mr Lang and Mr Waddilove owned and ran Cafe Grecco in Nedlands for three years before starting the 28 square metre Spring Expresso in Subiaco, selling it 18 months later.

But with all the success, relaunching Bay Road has not been without its challenges.

Twelve baristas have passed through the Bay Road Pantry’s doors during the past 18 months, some of their own volition and others Mr Lang suggests were not up to the job.

To address the staff issue, he brought a barista over from Melbourne, only to have him poached by a cafe in Subiaco.

“I had him for four months and then a cafe in Subiaco stole him from me. I brought him out from Melbourne, he was meant to be here for 12 months,” Mr Lang says. “It’s one of those jobs where you get bored, it loses its challenge. It doesn’t matter what you pay them, they move on to other cafes.”




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