When chef Peter Shaw took over a delicatessen in Michelton, Queensland in 2010, he envisioned turning it into a destination where he and others can practice their passion for food and hospitality. Thus, Hobby Lane was born.
“I always wanted the café to be a success for all. Our goal isn’t just money, it’s the popularity of the café, enjoyment of our customers, and happiness of our staff,” Peter says.
“It’s a really nice place to work, with a good dose of humour and people have stayed a long time with me due to that. I’m proud that it’s a place where people want to work and customers want to come.”
Over time, Peter shifted the venue’s focus from being a dedicated deli to a full café. Two years ago, he remodelled the store so its coffee machine – a white three-group La Marzocco Linea PB – was up front and in full view from the street.
“The coffee machine was deep within the store. Our food was doing really well, but I really wanted the quality coffee we were doing to be reflected in the numbers,” Peter says.
“We focus on keeping it simple, with really nice shots and milk, combined with speed and lovely customer service.”
The renovation led to a boom in sales. Hobby Lane serves the Woolloomooloo blend from Toby’s Estate Coffee Roasters, a “blend that suits the customer”.
“We tried a few of their other blends and are really happy with Woolloomooloo. It’s a big mouthful of body and flavour with distinct flavours of spice, cocoa, and caramel,” Peter says.
“We do a strong number of kilos per week and there’s not really room for a second person, so it requires a genuine gun of a barista.”
While coronavirus-related restrictions have hit the food part of the business, the coffee section is carrying the weight. Peter estimates that Hobby Lane’s coffee usage is up by almost 50 per cent.
“Our streetscape is very attractive for coffee. It’s open and airy, so people have the correct perception they can get a coffee without entering a closed environment and keep social distance,” Peter says.
“Our overall business is down, but the model is smaller, so it’s still effective. I’m also working less myself, so I can keep giving people shifts. Investing in the takeaway side of things is also quite exciting.”
Hobby Lane has filled its front cabinet with handmade quiches, chicken pies, pastries, salads, and granola cups – something new to the café. A takeaway menu of breakfast favourites, like Breaky To-Go Rolls and Smoked Salmon, is also on offer.
Peter looks forward to sit-down service returning to Hobby Lane, so he and his kitchen team can put their creativity back on display. One of Hobby Lane’s stand-out dishes is a spelt crepe served with coconut, ricotta, a yuzu curd, toasted almonds, lemon balm, basil sugar, and ruby grapefruit.
“It’s a play on lemon crepes if you like, but with healthier flour,” Peter says. “It’s a bit feminine, very visual, and doesn’t fill you up too much. You walk away going ‘that was delicious and a little bit of fun.’”
4/43 Blackwood Street, Mitchelton, Queensland, 4053
Open seven days 6:30am to 12pm
(07) 3355 7990