Bar 9 specialty coffee and St Vincent de Paul Society have joined forces to establish a new social enterprise café – with a difference.
“I was looking for a way to expand upon Bar 9’s mission statement of ‘enabling life’s best work through to the community’ when an opportunity to work with St Vincent de Paul opened up,” Bar 9 Founder Ian Callahan says. “Bar 9 has supported the organisation through various events such as the Vinnies CEO Sleep Out, but this time we have a chance to make a permanent difference for some of the community’s less fortunate.”
Bar 9 Outreach will officially open to the public on 13 April. It is located in an old building at 34 Whitemore Square in Adelaide, formerly the home of the renowned Iliad Greek restaurant. For the past 12 years however, St Vincent de Paul Society has owned and maintained the space, using it as a dining room to prepare and serve meals to the homeless community. During the day however, the building remained vacant.
“At 1pm St Vincent de Paul volunteers would come in to prepare the meals, then serve about 30 people from the St Vincent de Paul shelter from 5pm to 5.30pm. The building was such an under-utilised asset,” Ian says. “When St Vincent de Paul South Australia CEO David Wark approached us about using the space during the day as a café, we had no reason to say no.”
It’s taken months of renovations to breathe life back into the old building and transform it into a specialty coffee retreat, but thanks to the generosity of supporters, the doors to Bar 9 Outreach are ready to open.
Ian says establishing this social enterprise was about much more than just a café serving some of the best coffee in the area. He wanted to prove a point.
“I really want to convince people that social enterprises can be great for business,” he says. “I want Outreach to inspire other businesses who have the capacity, to find a way to help others in need. It may be through employing someone who needs a second chance or someone who just needs a bit of positive reinforcement, mentoring and up-skilling. I want businesses to realise they can make a valuable impact to people who have simply made one wrong decision in their lives. Give people a chance.”
Unfortunately, Ian says where many social enterprises fall short is through a lack of business structure. As such, Bar 9 Outreach is taking a three-tiered approach to ensure it sustains longevity and value.
The rent of the building will become a new revenue stream for St Vincent de Paul, which the society can distribute directory to projects of their choosing.
The Bar 9 kitchen will help prepare a lot of the food that goes towards feeding people from the St Vincent de Paul shelter each evening, located just a few doors away from the new Outreach venue. This will help reduce reliance on St Vincent de Paul volunteer staff.
Ian says most importantly, the new Outreach site will house a training program for a select group from the St Vincent de Paul shelter, in a proposition Ian says is a “win win” for all parties involved.
“The idea behind the training program is to up-skill and build confidence to participants through hospitality, coffee training, and baking skills. The end goal would be for those participants to find permanent or part time employment, and potentially to help them open their own business one day, even if it’s not hospitality related,” Ian says. “The people who attend our training programs are those who are willing to make a change in their lives. There’s lots of value in watching someone with low self esteem gain the confidence to make a coffee and serve it to a customer with a smile.”
To bring the café to life, Five Senses have helped outfit the coffee operations with the insalment of a Synesso Hydra espresso machine, and Mazzer Robur Kold, Nuova Simonelli Mythos One and Mahlkonig EK43 grinders A new Marco Sp9 coffee brewer will serve filter coffee, with the addition of a 9 Strietman Espresso ES2 wall-mounted lever espresso machine. Ian says this machine is only one of a handful of its kind worldwide. He says this feature will pay homage to the original lever pistons first installed at Bar 9.
A Mediterranean breakfast and lunch menu will also pay respect to the building’s character and previous Iliad restaurant tenants.
“I’m looking forward to seeing quantifiable change – seeing someone with limited options transform their life into one of hope and confidence,” Ian says. “Hopefully, we can enact some real, significant and long lasting social change.”
Bar 9 Outreach is located at 34 Whitemore Square, Adelaide, South Australia. Bar 9 Outreach is open to the public Wednesday to Sunday 7.30am – 2pm.
For more information visit www.bar9.com.au