The Melbourne suburb of Essendon is known for its proud football club, Melbourne’s first international airport, and one of the most talked about supermarkets in town, LaManna.
Just as conversations in Melbourne celebrate coffee, when it comes to groceries, LaManna is top of mind as a “destination” for its quality food, custom cakes, and the “deliberate chaos” it creates on the weekend.
Just a few hundred metres away in Essendon Fields Airport is The Hungry Fox Café, an extension of the LaManna brand but in its own dedicated way. An experience in its own right, since the café opened in 2018 it has become a local favourite for customers to linger over a coffee and chef-prepared dishes without a shopping trolley in sight. Rather, the only connection to the supermarket down the road is the quality produce it supplies for the menu and its traditional family values, meaning everyone is welcome.
“From supermarket to café life, opening The Hungry Fox was a challenge for the LaManna family because it was new territory, but as soon as I started working here I knew it was something special,” says Jason Shiong, Head of Hospitality at LaManna. “To see its progression from where it started to where it is now, and where it’s going, is incredible.”
The café is positioned among the car dealerships of Essendon Fields, the Victorian Police Air Wing, Royal Flying Doctor Service, and regular airport traffic, meaning there’s never a shortage of customers. That includes couples, and mums and bubs that swarm to the playground for an hour of relief.
Just as the café is a new venture for the LaManna family, so to is its partnership with roaster SoCo, using its Society Blend in addition to rotating single origins, served via batch and cold brew.
“The Hungry Fox is excited to continue its relationship with SoCo and its new and unique offering. SoCo is so well suited to Hungry’s Fox’s diverse demographic. It’s locally roasted and packs a punch,” Jason says.
“We were the first café to trial this new brand, and the reaction has been incredible. It’s interesting to see that some customers who would get their morning coffee from LaManna are now coming to Hungry Fox – it’s a battle of the baristas.”
The café menu is a playful touch on popular café favourites, from burgers to salads. Jason says crowd favourite Earthy Eggs has been a staple since day one because of its marriage of flavours and display of technique.
The chef lives by the rule that everything on the plate serves a purpose, meaning it’s not just Insta-worthy but “generous and full of flavour”.
“The menu changes regularly and seasonally. It’s dictated by our butcher, fruit and veggie team, and delicatessen cabinet at LaManna,” Jason says.
The Hungry Fox is named after one-half of Essendon Fields owners, Andrew Fox. Legend has it he envisaged the café to resemble a place visited in the Napa Valley, and the chalet vibe is exactly what interior designers Lukas Partners delivered. Shaped with a pointed roof, large windows, wooden furnishings, and fireplace, The Hungry Fox Café is the perfect way to see out the winter days with a SoCo coffee in hand – watching the hours past by and the air traffic take off, just like the café itself.
The Hungry Fox Café
305 Wirraway Road, Essendon Fields, Victoria, 3041
Open Monday to Saturday 7am to 3pm
(03) 9027 9201