16/01/2008 - 22:00

Smart Bites a healthy choice

16/01/2008 - 22:00

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Tucked away between Trinity and Carillon arcades in the underground walkway connecting St Georges Terrace with the city’s malls is a modest looking cafe-cum-lunch bar that packs a very healthy, tasty, punch.

Smart Bites a healthy choice

Tucked away between Trinity and Carillon arcades in the underground walkway connecting St Georges Terrace with the city’s malls is a modest looking cafe-cum-lunch bar that packs a very healthy, tasty, punch.

Smart Bites has been open for about two years and its owner, Geoff Wright, is planning to franchise the business this year on the back of its initial success with the city’s coffee and lunch brigade.

The predominately takeaway cafe has a simple set up – select a roll or salad box, choose a “delight”, ranging from satay chicken, smoked salmon or ham, and then top it with a choice of four fillings ranging from avocado to spinach leaves.

All up there are about five different rolls, four different breads, three different wraps, 20 fillings and 12 meat options.

A fruit bowl sits on the counter and the drinks fridge is filled with fruit juices and water.

And the coffee is organic.

Smart Bites is healthy to the core.

A man of many talents, Mr Wright established Smart Bites after moving from Walpole to Perth to raise his family.

The idea came to mind while he was operating a pharmacy with his pharmacist wife in the South West.

“It was just something that grew in my head while I was down there,” Mr Wright, a landscape gardener, says.

“The whole concept was to start out healthy from day one,” he says.

Mr Wright says that, upon his return to Perth, he researched the cafe market and found there was a gap for a dedicated healthy cafe.

Mr Wright says he is looking around for potential sites to open more Smart Bites outlets and has a few firmly in mind.

Expansion plans are still in the early stages but he hopes to open at least one other Smart Bites cafe this year.

“We have had some enquiries from people who have come in and seen what we are doing, and seen that it is pretty busy,” Mr Wright says.

“There has been a lot of interest in it.” The biggest issue, like many others in the hospitality sector, has been finding and retaining staff.

“With the whole state booming, hospitality has been left behind a bit because it can’t offer the big wages,” he says.

But Mr Wright has struck some success by utilising an itinerant backpacking market, particularly long-term backpackers with visas that allow them to work for between three and six months.

And while that may appear a relatively short time frame, he says it’s often longer than many Perth-based employees end up serving as they chase more money elsewhere.

Mr Wright says the strategy is proving successful, with his army of backpackers enthusiastic and flexible in terms of the hours they can commit to the cafe.

He has also been fortunate enough to have had two staff members on board for the past two years, managing the cafe day to day.

Smart Bites has also attacked the corporate catering market, with its position in the heart of the city providing contact with the suits working in the nearby office towers.

The cafe offers platters of its wraps, sandwiches and even breakfast options.

Mr Wright says the business remains almost the same as it did when it opened apart from some “tweaking”, which has refined the business without changing the concept.

“We have been increasing the range,” he says.

“But some things don’t work and when a particular ingredient moves slowly, we change it.” Smart Bites has secured accreditation with the FoodSafe food-handling program.

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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