For more than four decades, Roma Bar has been a fixture of the Darwin CBD, and since 1989, the café has been owned by Phoebe Breyer-Menke’s parents.
In 2012, Phoebe bought out half of Roma Bar and now operates the café with her mother.
“What makes Roma Bar so special is that it’s been around for so long. Our core customer base are Darwin locals, and people who are interested in the history of the city,” Phoebe says.
“We’re right in the Darwin CBD, close to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and the courts. We’ve always been known to have politicians sitting next to journalists, and our day to day regulars include judges having their breakfast before they go into work, and then coming back for lunch.”
Roma Bar serves Seven Miles coffee, distributed in the Northern Territory through Absolute Coffee, and has a great relationship with the company.
“About five years ago, we wanted to change the direction of our coffee and pull it up a bit higher,” Phoebe says.
“Seven Miles was coming into Darwin and it brought its Belaroma blend to us. They thought that was something that would really suit our brand, and it really did.”
Phoebe says the rich chocolatey flavour of the darker roast really suits the locals’ taste palates.
“In Darwin, we like that Italian-style coffee, so Belaroma worked well for our customers,” she says. “We did taste tests with our regulars before deciding to move to Seven Miles, and it’s been really good. We get lots of compliments on the coffee.”
Roma Bar serves an all-day breakfast menu with lunch specials changing day to day.
“We keep the menu quite simple but effective, because we find that our regulars like that, and it means they can eat there twice a day,” Phoebe says.
“We also offer really interesting specials based on what local produce is available. When it’s mango season, everything on the menu seems to have mango.”
A staple on Roma Bar’s menu is the Indian Breakfast, which consists of dahl served with yoghurt, and house-made roti and lime pickle.
“We’ve had the Indian Breakfast on the menu for around 25 years. It’s an interesting meal, and it’s very popular, which is why it has been on the menu for so long,” she says.
To Phoebe, the best aspect of operating a café in Darwin is the community feeling she shares with her regulars.
“I feel like it’s not just me serving customers, I’m serving my friends and family of Darwin,” she says. “Each of our regulars almost own a part of the café.”
9/11 Cavenagh St, Darwin, Northern Territory, 0800
Open Monday to Friday 7am to 3pm, Saturday 8am to 2pm, Sunday 8am to 1pm
(08) 8981 6729