Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Human Behaviour - just try to figure it out!

Three months in now and the one thing that just baffles us daily is On Mass Human Behaviour, or the abbreviated version for it... F.U.C.T.   Running a business is certainly a challenge - blah blah blah, everyone knows that.  Staffing, food costs, service, food variety and quality and the list laboriously goes on and on.  However the one thing that has completely blind sided me is human behaviour.  I am not talking about the guy that comes down to us on day one and tells us we need heating (um der), or the person who tells us that we need more staff because their is a line of people waiting to get a seat (no, that would be more chairs sir), or the lady who orders her takeaway, pays for it then vanishes into thin air, or even the people who sit on a beautifully made latte for over an hour and keep sipping it while engrossed in what their i-phone has to offer them that day - no, none of that.  In fact that human behaviour keeps us going, keeps us smiling and keeps us fascinated. 

I am more talking about how on mass people (or customers as the case may be) do things that affect our business.  People who have nothing to do with each other, but all act the same at the same time.  So, what I mean is that now we are three months in and it is time to take stock.  You have to work on trimming the fat so to speak and make sure you don't have much wastage.  That means wasting food, keeping food costs down, keeping staff costs down so that you have the right staff without compromising service and so you don't have too many on that it sends you broke.  Of course I analyse weekly our takings, customer satisfaction, what sells and what doesn't and why no one seems to like sparkling blackcurrant juice.  After this long you get a feel for the days and the ebbs and flows they bring.  However just when you think you have got it HUMAN BEHAVIOUR kicks in (or F.U.C.T).  So here are some examples that have me baffled:
  • Our mornings go up and down with coffee.  One moment you can look up and no one is around for about 30 minutes and then all at once, people come from everywhere and all of a sudden within 2 minutes we have 15 coffee lovers waiting for their liquid gold to be crafted and 20 people have just come and taken a seat in the cafe.  These people don't know each other (some do), but all of a sudden they descend on Mister C at once.
  • Same as leaving - all of a sudden 8 tables of people can get up and leave.  It is like I have just said something that has offended them all (which can happen once but not all the time).  So one minute we have piece and harmony with a bit of Dolly Parton singing "Here you come again" in the background and then next we have 12 people waiting at the register to pay.
  • Our weeks have been steady and thankfully people like what we do, but I just don't get how one week every day can be above average in takings, while the next week every single day will be below average.  Not just one day up and one day down, but the whole week - what?  I don't get it.
  • One week we receive 9 catering orders, the next none.
  • One day my hair will be perfect the next it clearly isn't.
  • One day we sell out of the salads and nothing else while the next day we sell out of all the sandwiches, or even more bizarrely we sell out of a different kind of sandwich each day.
It keeps us on our toes and we certainly do not take anything for granted.  Especially our point of sale system.  Who would have thought that a little cafe would be so reliant on three screens, two printers and some software.  My world is so small now and you psycho analyse everything you do.  Are these differing forms of behaviour anything to do with us?  I don't think so, it is just this weird connection that people have with each other - synchronicity between each other.  I am not going to get all on new-age on you, but there is something in it...

Why isn't our takeaway that big today?  What did we do wrong?  Is the food tasty, do people like what we do?  Did I not smile enough .  Are we too expensive or too cheap.  Is our coffee grind right today - does no one like brussell sprouts and can anyone cope with Peter's singing all the time.  All we can do is continue to work our guts out and try our hardest.  Most of all that each day we do the best we can do.  Ok, don't mean to get all weird, but it is true. 

Once again - we thank our customers for all their feedback, support, suggestions and care in what we are trying to build.  We are truly grateful and will always remain humble.  Oh Mister C - I love you but you do my head in sometimes.  There, I'm done, now for something sweeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeet...

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Two Months in - yipee we haven't lost our marbles

Ok, so everyone told me running a cafe would be hard.  That the margins are tight (to sometimes non-existent) and that staff would be your main worry (other than paying the bills and mortgage of course).... um yep on all our accounts.  However the buzz of being back in hospitality confirms that I personally have done the right thing - I just now have to make sure that it works commercially. 

Pete and I are so overwhelmed with all the wonderful feedback we are receiving from our incredible customers.  We turn every constructive comment into a point to make change and we honestly couldn't be happier with how Mister C is going.  What we need to do now is make sure we give our customers what they want - however, sometimes they don't know what they want.  So for example we have created a make your own muesli bar to give people a healthy breaky on the go - will it work or not.  Who knows until tomorrow, but you just have to keep trying until you hit the right spot.  We have brought on a pastry chef - Mel, and she is incredible - the sweets coming out of our kitchen are ridiculous.  Where do we go from here? How do we increase trade in our quiet times, afford to get more seats in our licensed areas and how do we service more people faster.  It is non stop... I no dream of taking endless differing coffee orders, I had a massage today and I couldn't stop thinking about baristas and then there is the all important challenge to create a great culture.  Peter and I love our staff and they are a great team, they are good people, they care about what we do, our food and Mister C.  For that we are eternally grateful...

Biggest buzz was meeting Mr Close, our year 8 teacher and his wife Diana.  Remarkably he hasn't changed a bit, he looked exactly the same (and the same as the logo) except he is naturally grey.  He was very pleased at what we had created and although it isn't a shrine to him, we have certainly used a memory and person from our past to name our business - so it was pretty cool. 

This is a pretty straight blog account, because that is how I am feeling right now.  Did I do the right thing to give up a wonderful, job and stable lifestyle?  that I have risked much of what we own?  That I have completely changed track at the age of 41 and I don't know what the future will behold?  Abso-fucking-loutley.... this is the most incredible thing I have ever done and although very hard right now (due to being out of work for much longer than expected and the build being about 30% extra) it is the most satisfying feeling in the world to hear customers happy with what we have done.  Hospitality is very very hard but pleasing people makes up for it.  Thank you Mister Close, I think I am in love.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Where did our first month go?

Ok, so they say time goes faster as you get older; but that is truly ridiculous.  Mister Close has been open a month - WOW, what a ride.  Driven by adrenaline and perhaps quite a bit of our yum coffee Pete and I have been putting in massive days, 6 day weeks and working a little on the 7th day.  We have just had to.  I don't think we have been naive going into this as we fully expected that we needed to pull to work this hard.  However when your friends and family tell you constantly you look tired you know it is catching up with you.  We have put everything we possibly can into Mister Close and thankfully our customers are really enjoying what we have to offer. 

You live by the sword and you die by the sword!  We have invested a great deal of time to be openly communicative through this blog, facebook, twitter and of course appearing on reviewer sites.  What we are trying to get our head around is the instant slamming or praise you get from social media.  We are desperate to make MC work and we ask for feedback constantly.  What hurts is when people slam you and seem to do it personally.  Anyone who has owned their own business will know how hard it is to get it off the ground and it isn't new news that over a third of businesses fail in the first year.  The difference in 2011 is that when you come home from a 12 hour day, pick up your kids from day care, get back on the tram and then log into a reviewer site to read some pretty harsh comments it would have to be the most horrible feeling in the world.  Personally we hate seeing any business fail, so why would others enjoy slamming small businesses.  No constructive comments or guidance, just personal opinion and attacks on what you build.  We take every comment seriously and meet every time we hear a negative thing said about our food, service or experience.  It is that important that we ensure consistency in everything we do.  We do have to toughen up and perhaps a little bit more sleep and time will build up our resilience to cope with harsh nonconstructive opinion. 

At the same time social media has been really helpful.  We can quickly respond to people's comments, we can communicate instantly with our market and we can stay on track with what they are liking and not liking. 

So July is almost here, new financial year and we are opening Sundays - 7 days a week.   A big step but we have an awesome team in place to handle it.  A month in we have learnt heaps.  We are just so appreciative that our customers like what we are doing and the best s yet to come.  Pete and I just need balance now. 

We contacted our school and Mr Close has contacted us - we look forward to feeding him very soon.

Thanks to all for welcoming us so well - we are humbled, proud and a little tired, - but we really love what we are doing. 

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Getting it Right!

So here we are...  day 10!  What a ride and when it all opened the main overriding emotion Pete and I felt (apart from exhaustion) was pride.  um, yep I know exhaustion isn't an emotion  - but it is was the main thing that consumed us last week.  We are blessed with fantastic staff and we are loving our customers.  We love our space and are still working on heating ( we are making head way), gas (who knows what is happening there) and a few small things.  We are sticking to our guns and are going to produce good food from good produce.  No we won't serve 1 litre coffees, doughnuts, fried food, made to order sandwiches or sushi - we leave that to those who do it best.  What we want to keep doing is surprising our customers with food, service, coffee and an environment that makes them feel good. We believe we can do that, we believe that is what people deserve and want.  Why shouldn't every meal be a great meal?

The biggest thing for us now is to listen to our customers, hear their suggestions and try our best to exceed their expectations.  Personally I am loving being back in hospitality.  Sure I miss the stability of working for a company, regular hours and income - but the adrenaline of running your own cafe is all consuming.  To have taken this plunge is such an awesome feeling.  Peter is a true inspiration and I am so very proud of him for taking this plunge with me.  He is a damn good operator and I am in awe of my mate of 28 years. Now it is time for us to "get it right"... to build a reputation, set our standard and keep ensuring we meet or exceed it.  We really believe we can do that - we just now need all our customers to help us achieve it by being honest and letting us please them. 

Mister Close - he feels good, he looks great, he is tasting super and we just love him.  And yes, we contacted our old school today to let him know.

Thank you to all our customers, friends and dear family - we made it.  It is now time for us to get it right. 


Monday, May 30, 2011

We are finally here! YAY!

So we opened our doors last Wednesday.  We didn't have full electricity til Thursday and we hopefully get gas tomorrow, but Mister Close looks hot.  He has come up so well and yep, we are pretty proud of what we have accomplished.  Completely and utterly exhausted, but man is it worth it.  We are pretty proud of what we have accomplished and I am especially proud of Peter who has been able to offer a full menu every day with limited power and Gas. 

Just like any new day at school you wonder what all the other kids will think of you, but we think they like us.  Kind of weird when you open up in the mouth of a food court which offers fairly cheap food alternatives and in an area of town where franchise and Asian food is the main offering - but we are determined to make our stamp.  We want to make sure we offer good food, an every changing menu and warm friendly service.  This combination is so important to us.  Peter puts so much love into his food and Carlos assists him with such finesse and I think the same level of passion.  Sure, we are priced differently from the $6 sandwich down the arcade or the Korean BBQ - but it is important for us to cook and serve up what we believe in - good wholesome home made food. We make everything front mini carrot cakes, mayonnaise, chutney, soups and it goes on and on.. I think sometimes people can underestimate that. 

It is pretty overwhelming and I must admit I was almost in tears a few times last Wed and Thursday - but only because we are so proud of what we have been through and accomplished.  We have had a fantastic first 5 days and even 2 catering jobs Than.  We are loving our customers and are starting to know their names (never been good with names so this is the test).  However for a guy who has returned to hospitality after 20 years I have just realised why - I really love pleasing people.  Thank you to everyone who has given us such wonderful feedback.  It was a huge risk, but I think we are going to like it hear.  Thank you new neighbours - you rock!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Perhaps May 23 or May 24 or perhaps May 25

For years I have heard other people talk about building homes or opening businesses and there have always been delays.  I think Mister Close has had his fair share of delays.  We proudly take possession of him tomorrow (May 19).  The plan was to work our sweet little batooties (is that a word?) off and softly launch on May 21.  It all comes down to the power - oh don't worry we have power, enough to run a few computers, a photo copier, some lights and a ghetto blaster.  Big problem is that WE ARE NOT A TRAVEL AGENCY.  We happen to be a cafe who signed a lease back on 2010 stating our electricity needs.  Now almost 6 months later it was discovered we don't have the 120 amps agreed upon, we are still running on the needs of an AAT Kings office. 

Problem rectified by our magnificent (new) property managers, however it is like buying a brand new Cliff Richard Album and and not being able to play it or a hypercolour tshirt and your breath isn't hot enough for it to change colour miraculously (not that it has ever happened to me).  So come tomorrow we will be washing dishes without any other appliances on, we will then be able to turn on the cool room and stand in it for effect which should be fun - then turn it off so we can wash some more dishes.  All we need now is for Origin to place the job and city power to make it a priority so they can come and wack a meter on our power.  Then we can use everything at once and open for business.  The only thing is - we dont know when that would be.  I was told 2 days, 5 days or up to 15 days however the guy who told me that latter exclaimed that he is being recorded and has to tell me that it is a possibility. 

When you have food that could spoil and a kitchen that can't work at full capacity it makes it hard, but then add on top of that people who are waiting in the wings to give you them all and help us make Mister Close ace - you just have to make the call.  So we did.  While we are still hopeful and could possibly open our doors to all day coffee and muffins - the reality is that we most likely won't.  So CLOSE but yet so far. 

Once again an out pouring of love goes to all our incredible family and friends for being so very supportive.  Our partners Fi and Ian have been so patient and understanding.  thank you thank you thank you...we are almost there. 

I am so playing wired for sound by Cliff Richard when we first open.  He was a genius!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Here we go, hold on tight...

This is the last week... in fact we have 3 days til handover and we can barely contain ourselves.  Mister Close is looking rather special, but of course it must be human nature to continually doubt yourself.  Did we do the right thing?  Have we extended ourselves too much?  Have we got the formula right?  Will all the other kids like us when we arrive?  Faith is an incredible thing, but I think sometimes we are so busy building up faith in other people rather than ourselves.  The faith, respect and trust Pete and I have in each other has been built up over many years.  He once had faith that I could sing and I once had the faith that he could be on time.  Well - he has now learnt to be on time, but alas I am only good at singing when I have dance to distract people's attention. 

We have taken many risks with Mister Close.  The biggest one is having the faith that this level of cafe is needed in this part of town.  Russell & George have done a spectacular job in designing our space, but it really looks quite alone in its location because everything around us has neon lights and another 200 or 3000 stores that are just like it around the world.  Mister Close is one of a kind. 

This week - May 19 is when we have hand over of Mister Close.  Almost 8 weeks ago it was an empty shell and almost 18 months ago Pete and I started talking about the possibility of doing this.  There have been many set backs and there has been a bit of stress, but we are almost there.  Good things happen to good people - and without blowing my own trumpet I know we are good people.  We are opening Mister Close for the right reasons and it is feels pretty good.   We genuinely believe there is a lack of quality food , spectacular service and good coffee along Swanston street and certainly within a 100 metre radius of where we will be.  Personally I am pretty proud of what we have achieved so far,.  Pete's menu is fantastic, we have hired some incredible people to join the team, the music is downloaded and I have developed some great routines.  Here is a sample of our sandwiches just to get you drooling.

  • Stuffed roast chicken with rocket & home made mayo
  • Grilled pumpkin, salsa agresto, buffalo mozerella & oven dried tomato
  • Shaved ham & dill potato salad
  • Haloumi, roasted capsicum, eggplant, rocket & dukkah
  • Tuna with capers and home made mayo
  • Salami, piccobello cheese, roast capsicum, dill cucumber & olives
  • Roasted honey carrots & garlic with bacon, avocado & cos lettuce
  • Poached chicken, brie, spinach & avocado

We still plan to open May 21 to fam and friends (in fact everyone is welcome) to help us work out our systems and then May 23 - Mister Close finally gets to say HELLO WORLD!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Almost there...

All good things come to those who wait, so does that mean the longer you wait the better it will be.  Perhaps not if you were building a massive Ferris Wheel or Very Fast Train from Sydney to Melbourne.

So we are now less than three weeks away from introducing Mister Close to the world <<insert thunderous applause>>  Apart from the weird sensation of going back to work (I don't think Pete and I have ever had this much time off - well except when I went travelling, oh to be young again) we just can't wait.  So now we are pulling together our team (Calling all front of house peeps - lovers of customers and all around fabulous human beings - we need you).  It is now getting into surreal world because of all the delays, we have naturally lost our momentum and we realise now we have a thousand things to do.  As we sit here on May 2, all the tiling is done and the flooring is don.  We move into the next stage over the next few days of fitting this bad boy out with all the equipment that Pete needs to make his magic happen. 

Every time Pete and I travel into the city and look at what used to be the old Foy's Department store, it

excites us to know end.  So with less than three weeks it is time to get everything in order.  Pete has the knowledge of what is ahead of us while I am allowing ignorance to excite me of finally opening my dream.  I love Pete's food and I love working with people and customer service, so what is there to be afraid of?  I will let you know in about 6 weeks.  It is just nice to know that this roller coaster ride of emotions is coming to a close - we know we get to step on a new roller coaster, but at least we will be driving it this time.

So the best news is:
  • We have Campos coffee on board.  They are a kick arse specialty coffee roaster and every time I drink that coffee it makes me smile.
  • Mr Starbucks across the arcade has decided to move out.  So we will be getting new neighbours and we just hope they are really nice and don't burn off every Saturday afternoon while we have the washing on the line.
  • We have already secured a fantastic Barista (in fact 2 I think), an awesome FOH leader and the kitchen staff are all in place.
  •  Aprons are ordered - so important. 
  •  The first two weeks of menus are done (just have to figure out how to use our POS)
  •  We have had incredible architects in Russell and George who have been so professional, creative and patient dealing with all the delays.
  •  Creative Order and David Marinelli have rocked our world with their assistance in developing Mister Close, his brand and image to the world.

So Peter and I (and our families) are a bit white knuckled - but we know this is going to be amazing and that Mister Close will be everyone's new best mate - well, that is what we are aiming for anyway because what's there not to love?

Tick Tock Tick Tock

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

We have a skeleton.

We are just over two weeks in and dear Mister Close has a skeleton.  Yippeee.  Coming from two guys that have never built a house or really renovated anything it has been a huge learning curve, but we finally can see it all coming together.  We have another 4 weeks to go and we are there.  We can put on our smart little aprons, fire up the two spanky black coffee machines, start cooking and meet our "adoring" public.  I have been wondering what to blog about to be honest.  No one really wants to read about our frustrations, self doubt and the delays we have encountered (well, not any more).  It is all about Mister Close now – what we have planned and the fact that we are peeing our pants in anticipation (not every day, we are grown men after all). 
It is such a bloody good feeling to know that all those hundreds of elements we have been working on for the last 6 to 12 months are all about to come together.  So now, as it stands on April 14 we are starting to talk to staff, our website has been developed (but not up yet), the menu has been fine tuned and everything is falling into place. 

The level of respect we now have for anyone who builds a business from the ground up is immense.  However the best feeling of all is when you are the throws of planning and talking about the fine details of the business.  I look over to Pete (a guy I have been mates with for 28 years) and think to myself I can't believe we are doing this together.  It is a bit of an out of body experience because not only do I have an overwhelming level of pride that we are still friends, but the fact that we are good business partners is spectacular.  Now let’s get on with it...

Thursday, March 24, 2011

We get to build something... how very cool is that?

I had an email from an old work colleague from half way around the world today.  I was sharing my frustrations in the delay of us taking over the property because I have always been someone that has been in control.  "Control Freak"... I hear you scream, not so much as someone that likes to have an over all handle on things.  Through the back and forth emails she said   "I’m so excited for you. You are actually building a business with your own hands- I really want to see it someday" (she lives in Canada).    Then it hit me...  We (Peter and James) are actually building something.  Something that represents everything we want in a cafe, in service, ,in presentation, in the product, food  and brand - From the ground up.  How very cool is that?

For us this is huge.  It's not just taking over someone's business it is building something from the ground up, it is building a company and delivering a vision we have wanted to create for so long now.  Pete took over Arcadia and turned it around into what people enjoy today. Mister Close is different - we have to hit the ground running and just hope that everyone will love what we do.  It hasn't been easy, in fact far from it.  The amount of times you can doubt yourself is ridiculous.  Where is Oprah when you need her?

I am proud of what we are about to build on Tuesday and I know Pete is too.  Kind of weird to put everything you have into something like this and have so much faith in each other.  Simply the most exciting thing in the world - best part is the last 3 weeks have perhaps been the hardest for us because of the delays.  Losing our momentum, going a little stir crazy because we have to put things on hold until we know our open date, but the silver lining is obvious - it will just make our opening so much sweeter.  It has made us want this so much more.  We can't wait to properly meet Mister Close because up until now he has just been a figment of our imagination.  Up until now he has been 1,001 parts in our heads, on spread sheets, on architectural plans, in permits, colour swatches, website designs and cookbooks. 

We thank everyone for their continued support of us  (especially Fi and Ian) and what we are building.  I can't tell you how much we appreciate the love and encouragement from our friends and family.   It has been a huge challenge and we just can't wait for you to meet Mister Close (after Easter).  YAY!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Food Glorious Food

We (Peter and James) had an almost identical upbringing.  We grew up in the eastern suburbs, we both went to the same secondary school, our first job was at Kmart Doncaster (James, sporting goods selling ammunition and guns at 15 and Pete’s was in the garden department – both of which we knew nothing about), we then both left Kmart to wash dishes of all things.  Pete at the Mitcham Hotel and James at Babarinos Doncaster – both while studying.  Then we both scored jobs at Arabesque in Camberwell as waiters.  This little Arabian restaurant commenced our love affair with food and hospitality, but it is the love affair with food we are here today to talk about… (so lets fast forward 20 years)

Pete is the author of this entry - Mister Close will be an open cookbook.  My training in the kitchen and cooking for cafes has spanned over 12 years.  I guess life leads us in all directions and while studying in Sydney in my mid 20’s my love affair with cooking great food that people enjoyed progressed even further.  While I never set out to work an oven and run a cafĂ© as a career, my heart told me otherwise.  With no formal training in food or even any experience working alongside other trained chefs, I have taught myself to cook the food that I love. Cookbooks have been my best ally in this endeavour and it's through these that I have honed my skills and my palate.

As we have mentioned Mister Close will be about the overall experience, but a HUGE part of that is the food.  I believe that food has to look fantastic (especially in the display counter) and why shouldn’t that extend to lunch in the city?  So that is why I go to great effort every morning making our food display cabinet look so good you want to inhale the whole lot.  Why shouldn’t food scream out to you “pick me pick me”.  I love to give people a difficult decision of what to choose to eat. 

What I love about our lunchtime display cabinet is that every day is open to interpretation. I may have eaten at a mate’s grandmother’s the previous night and try and replicate what I had, or a bargain tray of mango's might come in, begging to accompany some tuna fish cakes as a mango salsa or a huge crew of vegan's might make a booking early in the day (yes we even love vegans) prompting me to eliminate cheese, yoghurt and butter but still satisfy their hungry tummies.

Whatever situation I find myself in, with Mister Close’s food selection we will always be able to adapt. To be really honest, cooking the same food every day bores the hell out of me.  So that is why I work with this ever changing menu.  I like daily challenges, I like customer requests and I like spontaneous inspiration and with our food, I can put all of these into it - everyday!  Mister Close is about good honest food... glorious food.  Six more weeks and counting...

Monday, February 28, 2011

March 1 and we are still waiting...

Ok, so I am going to be completely honest...we are still bloody waiting.  Waiting on our tenancy to be handed over so we can start building Mister Close.  It is a nail-biting time because our grand plan was that we were going to start trading the first week of March.  Sure, we have watched Grand Designs and have had friends and family build homes that never go to the proposed timeline, but that would never happen to us.  SHIT HAPPENS, but it is also completely unforeseen and something out of our control.  So while it is not ideal it is giving us more time to plan, explore different suppliers, talk to many more cafe owners about their experiences and take all the steps we possibly can to make sure we open our doors with the best products and service we possibly can.  Paralysis through Analysis - is certainly a possibility, but we really believe in each other and know that every time we pick something apart it will be even better when we put it back together again.  So long as we don't dissect too many elements of Mister Close.

MMMM so what is new in our incarnation of Mister Close?  Gunmetal coloured coffee machines (a 2 and 3 group thanks very much).  We are working on our own blends of coffee (regular and strong - we want to keep it simple stupid)...  The development of our Sanger, Salad and Sweeety lunch box (shut up! no you shut up!).  Working closely with Creative Order who have taken Fiona's magnificent illustration and are incorporating it into our branding.  Signage, sourcing maps for walls, if I see another chair again I will burst, biodegradable cups, free range chooks, slowly gathering staff - but the best thing about it is that every time Peter and I (James) talk at length about Mister Close we get so damn excited.  We know we are doing the right thing, we know our hearts and passion are in the right spot and we know we are going to offer food, coffee, service and an experience you can't find in this part of Melbourne.  Pretty cool when you take stock of your friendship which is now a business partnership and you realise how much you respect each other.  In some weird way you think to yourself, perhaps this is the reason we met in the first place.  So while we are currently not in a "perfect world situation"- time can be a good thing.  Note to self - don't drink during the day or watch Kerry Ann Kennerly, that's a bad thing.  6 weeks to go (we hope) and counting.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Well Hello Handsome

He is almost ready to go.  The final designs are in and Mister Close is looking very handsome indeed.  While you can't really get an idea of the textures we are using (think rough / rustic wood, clean tiles - we hate dirty ones, concrete floors and ridiculously good looking staff).  The pic will give you an idea of how Mister Close will present himself to people walking by on Swanston Street.  The Black void above the floating ceiling is a high, exposed ceiling that the cafe will sit under.  Mister Close will seat around 65 to 70 people.  There is still quite a lot of fine detail to work out, but all I can say is I can't wait to get stuck into one of our Organic Stuffed Roast Chicken Rolls on Farmers Rye with rocket and home made Mayo, we know - YUM. 

Website coming soon...  can't wait for you all to meet Mister Close in person.  He is getting very excited.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

All Boarded up with no place to go....

The transformation slowly begins.  The landlord's works have started to turn what is now an ugly office space into a handsome Mister Close.  I must admit - I have never built anything before except some quite excellent villages made out of lego for very small people, so this whole building process is full on.  Our tenders are due in this Friday and then our side of the build starts next week.  Our super architects Russell & George are a godsend.  Pete and I just saw all the materials that will be used to make Mister Close come alive and we are quite excited.  Mix this with bio-degradeable takeawy packaging, apron designs and material, what mini chopping board will we serve sandwhiches on, what will our website, menus and branding look like and how many cash registers do we need, you can pretty much guess what we have been doing for the last 2 days. 

A big thanks for all the support thrown our way as we get closer (pardon the pun) to Mister Close finally taking form.  The wig shop from out the front of our place is gone and now we have spanky new white boards with a little door in the middle... how very grown up.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Is it all about the coffee?

Can a cafe be as serious about their coffee as they are their food?  Well we are taking all the steps to make sure Mister Close is.  Peter K, our master of food, since taking over Arcadia, Gertrude Street came in contact with a Tasmanian boutique coffee roaster called Clique Coffee.  These guys are so passionate about their coffee is is inspiring.  Just by bringing the word 'coffee' up in coversation can have you sitting there for hours soaking in what Dane ( Head Roaster Guy and co-owner) has to say.  After tasting Clique Coffee's offering it came very apparent that we had no choice - it was fantastic.  Not only are we dedicated to supporting other small businesses, but when you come across a company that is so dedicated to the quality of their product it is a no brainer. 

We are so excited to have Clique Coffee on board and to be able to introduce Melbourne to our house blend and ever changing single origin beans that are selected from all over the world and roasted in Tasmania.  So while we have been preparing our menu for months we have not let the ball drop on our coffee.  We have two machines, 3 grinders and two Baristas on order - now we just need a cafe and hundreds of smiling, satisfied friends of Mister Close.  nom nom nom nom

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

It is all about the logo

And welcome Mister Close...the final, polished logo.  He is a little fatter than normal, but I think it is a blog thing.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

What are we all about?

Mister Close is the result of two school mates, who met in 1983.  James English (me) and Peter Knowles.   So we have known each other for 28 years and who would have thought that in 2011 we open our dream business together.  That is all about us - the rest is fairly boring... now onto our dream.  Enter Mister Close...  After honing his skills through owning the succesful Arcadia Cafe on Gertrude Street, Melbourne for over 6 years Pete was determined to expand.  Knowing it has been my lifelong dream (ever since reading Charles Forte's biography in 1989) he approached me to help him with that expansion.  Cooking is Pete's passion while kick arse customer service and satisfaction along with running a successfully growing business is mine.  Pete is focussing now on his first city venuture, while I sadly resigned from my corporate life (I loved my job, but this opportunity is too incredible) of over 15 years to run with this.  We have been planning this for over 12 months and in March we see it materialise in the shape of a brand spanking new cafe in the middle of the city called Mister Close (as in not far).

So the next two months will be building, hiring fantastic staff, finalising our ever-changing menu, developing new ways to service our customers and working hard to bring an exciting eat-in, takeaway and catering experience to central Melbourne.  Where are we?  Glad you asked...

We will be on the corner of Bourke and Swanston Streets, next to the T-life store, right inside the arcade to Midtown Plaza (above Readings and Dick Smith). 

How are we feeling? (you didn't ask this but I am going to tell you).... excited, exhilerated, petrified, inspired and we simply can't wait to show you what we have in store.  I am a mad attention to detail guy, and Pete is an incredible master of food...  Our coffee is from a small roaster in Tassie and stay tuned for the rest.