When they bought the 12-month-old café, Peter and Daniela Spalding didn’t want to change its name. So they created their own Mr Burch as a mascot for the 1920s-era building. Daniela is the collector and created the dapper 1920s wardrobe for the mannequin that sits on the upstairs landing from her trips to antique shops and markets.
Locals enjoy the unpretentious charm at this café, which the Spaldings have been running for 2½ years. It’s their first café ownership, says Daniela.
“We’ve had corporate jobs, but we both have hospitality backgrounds and we’ve always looked at cafés, thinking we’d like to own our own one day,” she says. “We live quite close by and had always thought something like this café would be perfect. Then our broker said that it had come up for lease.”
The Spaldings have created a community hangout, and with a teen and pre-teen of their own, are noticing secondary-school students beginning to experiment with coffee. “We’ve served many of them their first coffee. They are taking their first steps into big shoes and going out for breakfast,” says Peter.
The café regularly features works by local artists in its upstairs dining area, which is popular for groups. It also makes a concerted effort to keep its operations as sustainable as possible – recycling, composting, baking in house and buying ingredients locally.
The breakfast menu includes a traditional offering of eggs, porridge, muesli and pikelets, while lunch choices span the soup, pasta, focaccia, steak sandwich and burger options.
“I’ve been making coffee since before cappuccinos were popular,” says Peter. “I’ve lived in the UK, South Africa and Hong Kong, and making coffee and breakfast in those places was different to anything we have here now.”
He’s worked for the InterContinental chain of hotels in the US, Sydney and in Melbourne and has watched the food and beverage industry change.
“We saw this as a great business that was really well established and knew we could make it our own. We didn’t need to change much, we’ve just embellished.”
That included the Coffee Supreme coffee that was already running through the La San Marco three-group espresso machine. Spalding says it’s “a lovely simple machine, with no bells and whistles and an amazing steam wand”.
A piccolo latte will be well rounded and pleasantly dominated by fragrant red-fruit acidity.
129 McKinnon Road,
Phone \ 9503 4312
Barista \ Peter Spalding
Coffee \ Coffee Supreme
Barista’s choice \ Flat white
Open \ Monday to Friday, 7am-3pm; weekends 8am-3pm
On the upstairs landing you’ll meet Mr Burch. Pipe in hand, hat perched jauntily, he sits amid the collectibles that fill this charming community café.
Bare floorboards, a recycled church bench, exposed bricks, buttery-yellow walls and pressed-metal ceilings are part of the old-fashioned charm, as are empty picture frames that hang askew, old newspapers as wallpaper and a historic map of Moorabbin.
Leadlight has been restored above a pair of bay windows that hold herbs in pots gathering sunshine, while on outdoor tables under the pink blossom tree, cushions and gaily coloured crocheted rugs are offered for comfort.