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I realise it's been a while since we have posted anything of note but worry not, we're still alive and have almost finished building the world's greatest coffee table. Yep, we've acquired some shiny new tools, and yes friends, one of them is a Makita Belt Sander and the other is an old Hitachi Drop Saw with no safety features, and the saw is exactly as dangerous as it sounds.
While I still have all my limbs and digits attached, I thought we could use this as chance to move over to talking about an amazing Cafe, around the corner from us and the challenges they've faced and how they keep battling on. The Cafe in question is called Mister and Missus, they're based at 135 Melville Road, Brunswick West, and are run by Husband/Wife team Rodney and Jess.
Here's a link to their facebook page, so you can actively stalk them and plot your next visit!
They opened up around the time we moved to Brunswick in 2016 and have slowly become renowned throughout Brunswick for their 65 degree perfect poached eggs, Toasties and just in general amazing Brunch, which they fire out of a very small kitchen at an insane pace. Rodney has a background as a fine dining chef and before opening up, ran a tidy kitchen called Rockpool, that some of you might have heard of (for people outside of Melbourne, apparently they're good for a steak, or two, should you have some cash to spend).
Occasionally, Mister and Missus will run a very intimate fine dining night in the summer months, and if they do, book immediately! You will not regret it, they are absolutely amazing and sell out seats rapidly. My wife and I went to one a couple of years ago and the meal we had was insane, it was hands down some of the best food we've ever had, and all came out of a kitchen not much bigger than the average family bathroom.
Anyway, I think I've hyped them up enough, ultimately my recommendation here is go and visit them when Melbourne opens up a bit more, as for once, I can assure you, you are definitely missing out!
Before you all worry or not, that this is has turned into a food blog... which I have no objections to running, if people want to send me to places and I get to eat, sadly it hasn't and Rodney very kindly sat down (socially distanced and via email) and explained to us what he and Jess have learned about running a cafe over the past 4 years and a little bit about how Covid has changed their world.
So without further ado, here's Rodney in his own words about what's running a cafe is really like, and for anyone thinking about opening one in the future, heed his advice and your future culinary empire, might just happen!
Question 1. How did you come up with the idea or concept for Mister and Missus M?
It was always a dream of mine to open my own business, I am very fortunate to have my wife Jess to help and realise my dream, she is such an integral part of the business and my life. It was Jess who came up with the name Mister & Missus M.
Question 2. What made you decide that Brunswick was the right area to set up the business in?
It was all by chance, we stumbled across the cafe on realcommercial.com one morning, when we went to have a look at the cafe we really enjoyed the feel of the area and the potential it had for our business. It had a real down to earth and family atmosphere.
Question 3. What are your top 3 do’s and don’ts in running a hospitality business?
1. believe in what you want to do, don't start something you're only gonna put half an effort in.
2. the age old- 'use the best possible product you can afford'.
3. being polite, using manners and generally friendly and hospitable goes a long way
1. assume you are above the customer,
2. think you're gonna make it rich straight away
3. be a non listener, listening to criticism is your best tool.
Question 4. If someone was starting out in a hospitality business, what advice would you give them?
Do your homework, hospitality like any industry can be very unforgiving if you don't have any background in it, I have been fortunate enough to have worked alongside some of the worlds greatest chefs and with like minded career workers in hospo, if you don't understand the industry properly it will eat you up (literally)
Question 5. What’s been the biggest Covid-19 challenge that the business has faced?
Just the unknown week to week, I came up with the notion to just stick with takeaway for the rest of the year from the beginning to eliminate that part of the unknown, so we could just focus on the task at hand and it worked.
Question 6. How did you adapt and what did you learn?
When I spoke to Jess and told her we should just do takeaway until everything calms down, with that clarity I was able to stand back and reassess what our little business was doing. What was working what wasn't, what the industry was going to look like and what our cafe was capable of under all the new laws and rules, we adapted and embraced the takeaway law, we are now focused on becoming a little food store takeaway showcasing what our friends in the industry have to offer.
Question 7. As restrictions ease, what can customers do to make yours and other hospitality professionals lives easier?
Its all about supporting local businesses and each other, money is tight everywhere and there are new rules coming in with every stage, people just need to be patient aware with what owners are having to do just to stay open.
Question 8. Outside of Covid 19, what’s been the biggest challenge Mister and Missus M has had to face?
Definitely the last two years has seen us drop about 30% in sales and the industry has seen this across the board, trying to juggle expenses, staff wages, and also our 'at home expenses' has been a major challenge, we made the decision that if we wanted to stay ahead of the game and be able keep our main long term goal, that one of us would have to back to full time work, after almost heading to Vietnam, Thailand, Phillipines or even Queensland, Jess managed to to get poached as a venue manager for a up market city cafe. (it has since been closed due to the current climate)
Question 9. What do you think has made Mister and Missus M, so successful?
Hard work, Focus, Fun, love for the industry and respect for what we do, and I think above all, Honesty. Jess and I have never tried to be someone that we aren't, and I think its what our customers come back for time and time again.
Question 10. What would you love to do with the café in the future?
To be able to keep it as long as we can, and see it fulfil its full potential, (I don't think we are there yet) but from what I have learnt thus far in being a business owner is that you can plan for the long term, but be ready for what the short term holds, whatever that might be.