Celebrity Chef Ben O’Donoghue has worked in dozens of top Australian restaurants. But after years of cooking in fine dining establishments, he and his wife Dee wanted a seachange. “The idea of operating a café together with three kids at school seemed like a great idea. We thought it would provide a perfect work balance,” says Dee. “It’s been challenging but it’s very rewarding.”
Dee and Ben bought an old corner store in Annerley, Queensland and opened their café in October 2014. “We wanted to create a traditional local cornerstore feel with a relaxed atmosphere, but quality in both our food and coffee,” says Dee.
She says the venue’s design creates a nostalgic ambiance with cool dark colours and modern colour pops, which are sympathetic to the corner store’s origins. The name of the venue is inspired from a conversation Dee had with a local resident. “She told me that post-war local kids would ride billy carts through the streets. We thought it was an appropriate name that tied into our community-driven café,” she says.
Billy Kart Kitchen serves Campos Coffee’s Superior blend on a turquoise La Marzocco machine. “It’s a complex, rich, and sweet blend with up-front stone fruit notes and a brulée caramel finish,” says Dee. “At first people started coming in for the food because they knew Ben and we were swamped with customers. Now we’re getting just as much interest for our coffee.”
Ben has used Campos Coffee at his restaurants before, and had no hesitation in partnering with them again. “Campos Coffee is so supportive of new businesses. They supplied us with our beautiful machine and providing training so we’d have consistency across the board,” says Dee. “We love the story behind Campos too, and their business ethos really fits with our core business values.”
Billy Kart Kitchen serves Ben’s casual yet sophisticated menu for breakfast, lunch, and Friday night dinners. Over the weekends the kitchen staff churn out more than 300 meals a day, with breakfast being their most popular meal. Favourite brekkie items include crispy corn fitters, the Aussie Asian breakfast with duck egg, and the pulled Berkshire pork shoulder sandwich for lunch. “We want to highlight simplistic food done really well,” says Dee.