When Nelly Celima’s dream café location became available for lease in the heart of Midland, Perth, she knew she had to start a business there.
“It was a little café that I’d been watching for years thinking, ‘that’s such a beautiful building. If that ever came up for lease, I’d jump on it’,” says Nelly.
An Italian family constructed Nelly’s Cafeteria in 1937 before it was renovated by Nelly and opened in June 2022.
“We’re really proud to be maintaining all that Italian history. That was special for us,” she says.
Keeping its Italian roots, Nelly’s Cafeteria is a modern take on an Italian corner deli serving Italian pastries, continental rolls and cannoli made fresh to order as well as Monte Carlo slices, an Aussie favourite.
“It’s very Italian influenced but also with a bit of an Australian twist,” Nelly says.
When designing the café’s interior, Nelly took inspiration from her Nonna, who encouraged her passion for cooking, food and hospitality at a young age.
“I wanted [the café] to look like a modern take on my Nonna’s house. I’ve got lots of decorations that she would have,” she says.
Nelly says the majority of the café’s customers are workers in the area looking for an early morning or lunchtime caffeine fix.
“It’s a very corporate area, so customers want their coffee fast,” she says.
Locale Coffee Roasters provides the coffee for Nelly’s Cafeteria. Nelly describes her relationship with the roaster as “incredible”.
“The whole Locale team has been fantastic, from the technicians to the delivery people to the barista trainers. They were essential to our set-up,” she says.
Nelly uses Locale Coffee Roaster’s Ultimate Wingman blend in her café. She says customers love the chocolate and hazelnut flavour of the coffee.
“It’s that stronger Italian sort of blend, perfect for the theme of the café,” she says.
Coffee is prepared using a Mazzer Luigi coffee grinder and XLVI Steamhammer espresso machine custom painted lilac.
“We’ve got a lot of mustard yellows in the café and earthy colours, so the [lilac coffee machine] matches it really nicely,” she says.
For black coffee, Nelly’s Cafeteria uses a Moccamaster Classic coffee brewer.
In the future, Nelly says she’d like to work with more producers in Perth’s food and beverage industry and potentially add gelato to the café’s menu.
“There are a lot of new up and coming people that have a really creative take on Italian food and drinks,” she says.
Having worked in the industry for 25 years, Nelly says the most rewarding part of opening her business is the freedom that comes with making her own decisions.
“I’ve been able to curate all the things that I love about the industry and put them all together which is really nice. If I want to put something new on the menu I have the ability to just do it without having to consult anyone,” she says.
Nelly says her working relationship with the team at the café is also a highlight.
“I work with a really good group of people and I wouldn’t be able to do it without them. I’m very lucky,” she says.
16 The Avenue, Midland, Western Australia, 6056
Open Monday to Friday 6am — 2pm
This article appears in the February 2024 edition of BeanScene. Subscribe HERE.