11/06/2008 - 22:00

Wild Fig Cafe finds the right formula

11/06/2008 - 22:00

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Residents of, and visitors to, the northern beaches along West Coast Drive have plenty of cafe options available to them on lazy weekend mornings, but it seems one venue in particular has cast a spell over the coffee crowd.

Wild Fig Cafe finds the right formula

Residents of, and visitors to, the northern beaches along West Coast Drive have plenty of cafe options available to them on lazy weekend mornings, but it seems one venue in particular has cast a spell over the coffee crowd.

The Wild Fig Café is owned and run by two sisters without any formal business or background in hospitality, who are providing a different take on the beach cafe concept.

Whether it is the organic coffee, the arty feel, the dedication to healthy and fresh food or the owners' ethical practices, Greer and Lorna Marns seem to have found the right formula for their business.

Located at Waterman, the venue seats 80 people and can have up to 1,000 people coming through the doors on a busy day.

"We started out as a cafe which has space for art and offers healthy, vegetarian, gluten-free options, and we've grown from there," Greer Marns told Gusto.

"We listened to our customers and have taken feedback very seriously; we try to mould the business to cater to people's needs."

The cafe becomes a BYO restaurant in the evening and runs themed nights, including a curry night with entertainment by an accomplished sitar player, as well as jazz and acoustic nights on Saturday and Sunday.

"We have a huge proportion of locals and regulars coming to the cafe, as well as people coming from quite a distance," Lorna Marns says.

Although they are running one of the strip's busiest cafes, the pair is not put off by an additional challenge and are preparing for the construction of a second cafe in Swanbourne.

The project was initiated by the City of Nedlands as part of a redevelopment of the area adjoining the Swanbourne Surf Life Saving Club at the end of Marine Parade.

Two years ago, the council put out a tender offer for a cafe to be built, which was won by the Wild Fig Cafe Pty Ltd.

The business is about to spend about $1.5 million on the construction of a new cafe and new public toilets, which will be managed by the cafe staff and locked at night.

Greer Marns says the new cafe will have a full restaurant licence and will aim to keep a similar approach to the existing Waterman business.

"We want it to be something where people feel comfortable coming from the beach in their bathers. For dinner it will be more formal," she says.

"We want to keep the business quite similar but we will check out the clientele and see what is needed in there."

Construction is planned to get under way in three months, with the cafe expected to be up and running by the beginning of summer 2009.

Greer, who has a background in visual arts, started The Wild Fig Café in 2000 with a chef friend, who is no longer involved with the business.

Microbiology and chemistry graduate Lorna joined the business a couple of years later when she realised hospitality was what she wanted to do for a living.

While Greer is looking after the Swanbourne redevelopment, Lorna looks after the day-to-day running of the Waterman venue, where Sean Carter is head chef.

The Wild Fig Café is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner Tuesday to Sunday, and breakfast and lunch only on Monday.

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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