Saint James Cafe recently opened in Melbourne, bringing a sense of the Motherland (England) to Malvern. Craig and Rich are the Brits behind the venture, and they’ve shared a bit about their journey below. Introducing Craig and Rich x
Side note: Phil Gijsbers (pictured on the right) is also involved in Saint James – you can read more about him here
1. Before we start talking about Saint James Cafe, can you please tell us a bit yourselves? Have you both always worked in hospitality?
Craig: I arrived in Melbourne 4 and a half years ago, 12 months after Rich, as a starting place to travel the world, and haven’t left since! I only got into hospitality as a useful tool to travel, but fell in love with my now wife, Andrea and the Melbourne breakfast culture and knew I could see a future here. We have a little girl, Isabella, who is fast becoming our top critic.
Rich: I originally moved to Australia in attempt to travel this beautiful country 5 1/2 years ago but on my arrival in Melbourne I fell in love with the place and struggled to move on. I have been in hospitality pretty much since I landed in Melbourne but in a different sector (bars/clubs). I moved to Windsor around 4 years ago which is when I started eating out pretty much everyday for breakfast and realised how much I loved the breakfast/brunch culture.
2. What made you guys want to open Saint James Cafe? Can you tell us a bit about the concept and what people can expect?
Craig: Saint James is a combination of our past and present. It’s all about using classic flavours and dishes we grew up with, served in a modern, Melbourne-cafe style.
Rich: Saint James is a reflection of our past and present! We have re-created some of our childhood favourites with a Melbourne twist.
Coffee has become an integral part of our lives which is why we take pride in the standard we deliver.
Craig: It certainly has been a lot of hard work. Initially, we had a number of teething problems, particularly in the kitchen but with diligence and hard work as a team we’ve overcome it. Four months in, we feel like we are now on the right track to provide Melbourme with something great.
Rich: Opening Saint James has been a fantastic experience. The stresses that have accompanied opening have been worth it.
4. What advice would you give to other people looking to open a cafe, or to start their own business?
Craig: My advice would be to have a clear vision of what you want to do and who you want to be. In what’s becoming a very competitive market, you need to be sure of what you’re doing, and confident you can stand out from the rest. Having a good team behind you is also key, something we are lucky enough to have at Saint James.
Rich: My advice would be to knowing exactly what you are trying to achieve from the onset. Do your research on the area and demographic thoroughly and provide a great service.
Craig: The Slayer Steam uses a dry vapour when steaming milk allowing less water in than conventional steam, essentially creating a sweeter, creamier milk. The digital Barista Dashboard allows much more control over shot volumes, brew temperatures and steam settings.
Rich: Couldn’t say it better (than what Craig said)!
6. And last, but definitely not least, what are your favourite items on the menu and why?
Craig: That’s a hard one because I’m really proud of all of our dishes. The black pudding really takes me home but if I had to choose, it would have to be the fish finger butty as it reminds me of my childhood.
Rich: My favourite dish would have to be the fish finger sarnie!! I’ve eaten countless of them growing up and now we have re-created it and made it better, I’ve eaten countless more!