I was so impressed with the atmosphere of a local cafe in Melbourne I visited earlier this year that I couldn’t resist having a chat with Jeremy, its owner/manager. I discovered two things that got me excited.
One is that he is committed to the idea that his cafe could be a welcoming, friendly hub in the community. It’s immediately obvious – confirmed later by checking the cafe’s website…
At the front counter I noticed locals popping in for take-away coffee, invariably drawn into conversation by Jeremy. He knows the names of regulars. He’s interested. He seems to know what’s going on in their lives. For him, getting a coffee is not just a transaction where money and commodity change hands. It’s human connection.
Further in, are the tables for sitting. My second observation was that he had built the whole enterprise from the ground up in an old garage, screwing pallets together to make the walls of the kitchen and unapologetically re-using stuff that would generally be destined for the bin.
That means that just about anyone, in any station in life, is more than likely to feel comfortable there.
Jeremy has an attitude of ‘yes’ to anything that helps the feeling of being welcomed and accepted. That goes from providing free wifi, to heaters you can turn on at your table. This could be a great place to start an experiment I have been considering for some time – using a friendly cafe environment for strangers to meet for conversation.