Café Owner Jason Ghebar has one cardinal rule when it comes to hospitality: customer service is everything.
“All people want is to be acknowledged when they walk into a shop. Not enough places do that,” Jason says. “I want my customers to enjoy a fun and hospitable environment, and leave with a smile on their face.”
Jason first started making coffee at Sydney’s domestic airport when he was 19 years of age. He left the industry to pursue work as a jeweller for eight years, but Jason’s love for coffee never left him.
“It sounds cliche but I had a calling,” he says. “I knew I wanted to be back in the coffee industry, and I came back at the right time – just before Sydney’s café scene started to explode. I think my work as a jeweller helped me develop the right business skills I needed to take the next step of starting my own coffee business.”
Jason started Charlotte’s Café in Birchgrove, New South Wales as a 100-square-metre espresso bar that he describes as “comforting and trendy”.
When it came to selecting the right coffee for his venue, Jason could only think of one brand.
“It had to be Campos. I started working with Campos Coffee from the beginning, and seven years later I’m still using their coffee. Not only is their coffee incredibly consistent, but they have invested in the development of my business and always want to see us succeed. I cannot fault them nor would I want to use anybody else,” Jason says.
Charlotte Café serves Campos Coffee’s award-winning Superior blend for both its black and milk-based coffees. “The Superior is the most complete, all-round coffee. It’s got floral tones, which I like, and it’s nice and rich. When drunk black you can really let the coffee sing,” Jason says.
The Birchgrove venue also serves a range of single origins and cold drip coffees.
Charlotte’s Café has a team of dedicated baristas working the La Marzocco coffee machine, but one familiar face soon to join the team is 2015 ASCA NSW Latte Art Champion Jibbi Little. “The coffee industry has developed in leaps and bounds. You only have to look at the barista championship to the standard of talent our country develops. We think Jibbi has that talent too,” Jason says.
Café patrons have a plethora of tasty treats to ponder over for breakfast and lunch. The food is a fusion of Mediterranean dishes with a Lebanese twist, inspired from Jason’s heritage. “Whatever we make we go the extra mile,” he says.
Breakfast crowd favourites include Charlotte’s Special with poached eggs, smoked salmon, capers, and fish roe on sourdough toast; and Moroccan spiced eggs. For lunch, diners can sample a mix of pastas, salads, burgers and wraps, but Jason assures me each item has its own “X factor”. Charlotte’s Burger is not just any burger. Jason says it stacks up among the best – both in height and flavour. It includes double meat, double cheese, pickels, mustards, tomato sauce, and fries.
“People eat with their eyes, and once they see our food they’ll want to eat it even more,” Jason says.
Charlotte’s Café is part of a much larger family. In its footsteps is newly opened Charlotte’s Little Sister in Manly and Pennant Hills. The family will be growing too, with Baby Charlotte in Mosman due to open mid August, and Charlotte’s Little Sister in Eveleigh in September.
“I always knew that we’d expand. Of course it’s stressful and I hardly ever sleep, but it’s rewarding to nurture something from the ground up,” Jason says. “Our business is built on love. I love the people I get to serve each day. Every day is different and each day is extremely rewarding.”