E is for..?

Ethel, dahhhhlinks! And who’s behind E for Ethel? Amanda Matulick and Dan Harland, crafty couple, placemakers and small business ninjas. Seriously, they must have some kind of superpowers to get the amount of stuff done that they do. All the way back in May I paid them a visit to try and uncover those superpowers, or at least a few of their secrets about how to build such a well-loved local business. Just a quick heads-up though, we had a looong chat (I couldn’t believe how generous they were with their time!) so this is just part one of my E for Ethel feature… Part one is all about Amanda and Dan themselves, who they are and what makes E for Ethel the special little space that it is. Part two will be all about small business, Radelaide and placemaking!

It was one of the first chilly, drizzle days of May and E for Ethel was (and is) a perfect spot to shelter. I ducked my head inside and snooped around the racks and shelves and various displays of crafty goodness before introducing myself to A & D. Dan whipped me up a delish coffee (they serve them complete with choccie freckle and book quote snippet on the side) and one for himself and we settled in for a chat. First of all, I wanted to know about Amanda and Dan themselves. How did they find themselves running such a lovely nook of sweetness?

Dan: Amanda’s always wanted to have her own space and her background’s in hospitality so it was kinda natural for her. Myself, I was a panel-beater before this and I’d done that for maybe 15 years – straight out of high school – and had never done anything else. Amanda had the idea to open this place about five years ago and we just decided to jump and go with it. I think if you have a big idea like that there’s no point putting it off and then down the track regretting not doing it, or eventually getting around to it but regretting not doing it sooner. I’d always thought about owning my own business but more to do with panel-beating. I’d never really thought of having a retail/hospitality business before because I’d never worked in either of those industries. It was quite daunting actually, and I’m still learning, but that’s the nature of business.

Lauren (me): How do you see E for Ethel as a hub for your community, now and in the future?
Dan: We’ve been chatting about this a lot lately. It’s something we always wanted; back in our business plan we always intended the place to have a community feel to it. It’s something we can’t quite put our finger on exactly how it’s happened, but I guess we just love getting to know anyone who comes in and we want people to feel like they’re at home and the more we try and make people feel comfortable like that, the more it’s going to grow.

At this point, there was a little lull in cafe activity so Amanda was able to pop over and join us.

L: Have you found that community feel has helped you build up a group of regular customers?
Amanda: There’s lots of people that feel so comfortable here and have been coming in for a really long time – or even people that haven’t known us that long but they feel at-home here and that’s really special. When we originally talked about names for the shop, one of the names we liked was ‘The Cosy Cafe’ and that’s kinda what people feel in here, like they’re in their lounge room and they’re really cosy and do things like they bring their dishes back up to us and that’s really cute.
D: Actually, this place was a cafe about 20 years ago called ‘The Cosy Cafe’ or ‘The Cosy Place’ or something.
A: I think it was an Austrian Schnitzel bar or something, so slightly different! It sounds very cute though and people reminisce about it a lot so maybe there’s something in this building that makes it a cosy place to be. This space is somewhere where we can have visits from our friends and family and we have customers who’ve become friends and family and that’s a really beautiful thing.

L: What are some of the challenges you’ve faced along the way, especially for Dan, not coming from a hospitality or retail background?
A: When we’d been in to do set-up and we were packing down for the night and we were opening the next day and we were pulling out of the car park, Dan said to me, “Do you know what my biggest fear is?” and I was like, “Nooo” and he was like, “Serving people” and I was like, “How did we get to this point, after two years of research and all of the fit-out and all of the craziness for you to tell me that right before we open?” and he was like “It’s your thing, I’m not going to spoil your dream just because I’m a little bit scared of people.” So yeah-
D: But yeah, you learn pretty quick!
A: But he’s amazing now.
D: Part of that was just that it was doing things that I’d never done before, like coffee and food and serving and I didn’t even know if I could do it so yeah…
A: You can! Hahaha… But other than that, I guess just what every business faces, you know, having to build a brand, build a name for yourself, having to cover your overheads and all of your expenses and making sure that you’re still enjoying it too. If you didn’t love it, you couldn’t survive in business I don’t think; you have to be passionate. Especially in small business. So I think all of the standard challenges, but we kinda see everything as an opportunity, as cliched as that sounds, we can always flip it and go, “So what does that mean and how can we change that and how can we create something different?” just trying to be clever about things.

L: What do you think makes E for Ethel a unique space? And a unique business?
D: I think just what we offer the customer. I mean, obviously it’s different to a normal retail space. We’re a dual business, with the food and retail space – not every store has that. We originally started as more retail and just did coffee but we’ve sort of grown into the space since then. I guess just that we’re still owner-operated too. We have friends and family who help out but if a customer comes in, we’re always going to be here and I think that offers a unique experience in itself. A lot of people talk about the ‘E for Ethel experience‘ as a thing, which is nice. It’s nice that a lot of our customers have that connection with the place. You can even see how big businesses are trying to move back towards that connection, personalising everything and styling themselves like a small business would, which is interesting. It’s a good thing, they should be doing that.

So there you have it, guys! Part one of two of my chat with Ethel’s own Amanda and Dan. Stay tuned for the next and final installment, and in the meantime why not pop in and say hey to the team? Make the most of that community atmosphere; it’s pretty special!

Lx

E for Ethel
Shop 7/116 Melbourne Street,
North Adelaide SA 5006
Phone 08 8367 0312
Email ethel@eforethel.com.au
Instagram @eforethel

TRADING TIMES
Wed to Sat – 9am to 5pm
Sun & Mon – 10am to 4pm
(Tues Closed)

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Cafe Love: Sublime

Today is a case of “it’s not you, it’s me.” My heart has been stolen by someone new. Someone who serves a giant wedge of brie as a meal. I mean, I can’t expect you to compete with that! Things are going really well. In fact, they’re sublime (sorry, couldn’t help it). My move eastwards has been for the best, but I promise we’ll stay in touch.

After my first lunchtime visit to Sublime, I went back four times in the next fortnight. I have drunk enough coffees there to be ready for a freebie on my Rewardle card. I’m afraid our love might burn out, but then I remember the baked brie and I know this relationship is one for the ages.

As well as the baked brie, I’ve also sampled the big brekkie, the smashed banana on toast, the chai lattes, the coffee, the lemon slice, the teas, the juices, the burger (that thing could feed a small village), the mushies and fetta on toast and more… I have enjoyed each and every bite on each and every plate. Seriously, not a bad word about any of it. Prices are definitely reasonable (cheap even, for the portion sizes and quality, especially for this part of town) and gluten free-ers are accommodated for easily. The courtyard out the back is ‘jaaahst goooooorgeous, daaaahling’ in the warm sun too, and I hear a liquor license is in the works… Can you say, ‘Sunday sesh?!’

At first I was a bit protective of our relationship and wanted to keep Sublime all to myself, but I know it’s nicer to share, so in the interests of being a good person and all that jazz, I’ve been spreading the word far and wide. Friends have been chuffed with their visits too and I feel so proud every time I hear more good stuff about my new boo. So go, my friends. I give you full permission to take advantage of my new love. Cafe monogamy really ain’t so fun.

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Sublime Cafe
55 East Avenue, Clarence Park
Click here for website
Phone (08) 7225 2006

Foodie Finds: Mr. Pilgrim Cafe, Semaphore

What better way to spend a sunny Sunday morn than on a little family adventure?!
Today was my first Sunday off work in what feels like forever (but is probably only a couple of months) so I decided to pay a visit to a new little cafe on Semaphore Road, Mr Pilgrim. Actually, it wasn’t a complete break from work because this cute spot is actually owned by one of my workmates, Nadia, and her hubby Paul. Now Nadia didn’t ask me to write anything about her new venture and had actually kept news of the cafe’s opening pretty quiet, but I’m all for supporting local businesses and even moreso when they’re new and run by friends, so I thought I’d pop in and say hi anyway.

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Semaphore Road is a hive of activity of a Sunday morning, it would seem! There were heaps of people out and about enjoying a leisurely brunch or morning tea, but as far as I was concerned, Mr Pilgrim was the place to be. The bold black ceiling and tiled wall behind the counter clashed perfectly with the rustic exposed brick and vintage tables and chairs. My fave feature was the door panelling on the wall opposite the counter. Super cool. Whoever was in charge of the design here got it spot. On.

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Paul’s expert barista-ing of the delish Coffex Coffee perked my brunch date (Dad) and I right up and got us ready for our brekkie. Dad’s a pretty boring breakfast-er and stuck with poached eggies on toast. I, however, went for the zucchini and corn fritters with haloumi, bacon and avo (it also normally comes with a sweet chilli sauce, but I’m not a huge fan so opted outta that one). Boy oh boy, I was not disappointed. I find a lot of cafes’ fritters too bland and floury but Mr Pilgrim’s had just the right amount o’ kick, the bacon was cooked poiiiifectly (and not too greasy) and haloumi is always a winner in my books! Did I mention they serve breakfast all day? Well they do. Winner winner, chicken dinner!

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Ever the multitasker, I took the opportunity to get started on interviewing Pa for this book I got him (/us) for Father’s Day (I think it was from Fireflies…?) so after eating we slid on over from our table into the cushy couches by the window and I asked him the first few questions in the book. Another coffee and a piece of Nadia’s awesome rocky road pushed us over the edge from satisfied tummies to serious food babies, but it was so worth it. Nadia’s rocky road rocks. Oh, and as for the rest of the cakes cabinet? I think I’ll be making a return trip for that torta della nonna. Man, that looked awesome.

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Menu options at Mr Pilgrims are slightly tricked up versions of all-time faves. This means there’s pretty much something for everyone, and if you can’t decide you can always share a Ploughman’s Platter. I know there are a lot of foodie options on Semaphore Road, but I reckon Mr Pilgrim strikes a balance between the fancy shmancy stuff and the cheap and cheerful. It’s right by the Odeon too so perfect for pre-movie lunches or post-movie coffees. You’ll want to get in before the hoards discover this gem, trust me.

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Mr Pilgrim Cafe
67 Semaphore Road, Semaphore
Open Tues-Fri 8am-4:30pm and weekends 7:30am-4:30pm (closed Mondays)

The three reasons why you need to visit the Winter Garden

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Is it just me, or is Adelaide starting to get some of its mojo back? For the past few years, the coolness that characterises Mad March has seemed to continue a little longer into the year, and I reckon this year it’s still hangin’ around as we speak. The Adelaide Cabaret Festival‘s Winter Garden is just one of the many funky little spots for Adelaide’s quirky/funky/artsy/b-grade celebrity folk to hang at the moment. I was there last night to see The Boswell Project perform, and really loved the atmosphere of the place. Think The Garden of Unearthly Delights, but all grown up. Here are the top three reasons why I think every Adelaide local (or visitor) needs to give it a try:

1. The food and wine

The Winter Garden has a small amount of quality foodie stalls, with Beyond India my top pick, and Jack Ruby a close second. Finally, an event organiser has recognised that not everyone wants to get sloshed before/after a show (although at the Coopers Bar, you can do that too) and Abbots and Kinney‘s coffee and bite-sized baked goods are a welcome inclusion to the garden.

2. The music

Last night I heard gypsy violins as I was going into my show, and a funky Cat Empire-style brass and drum band on my way out. You can plonk yourself down in the Winter Garden and have a really diverse night of listening and leave it at that, or you can use it to try before you buy tickets to some of the best musos of the Cabaret Festival (and beyond).

3. The people watching

Oh, the people watching. Drag queens, retirees, bright young things decked out in vintage and local (especially Advertiser) journos abound. There might be more hiding inside Dulcie’s Shop of Real Opportunity (in support of the Hutt St Centre), which is parked between the stage and the food stalls and is definitely worth a look for a hidden gem or twenty. My Mum insists she saw Boy George heading towards the Winter Garden last night, but I was unable to track him down so cannot categorically confirm or deny his presence.

 

So there you have it! Come on Adelaide, don’t be put-off by the cold and drizzle and keep Adelaide’s coolness on a roll! Get your fine selves along to the Winter Garden and have a grand ol’ time.

Lxx

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Book Nook: The Wishlist

With the proliferation of digital content and e-readers and immersive media, there’s something special about holding a hard-copy book in your hands; the feel, the smell, the specialness of it all. My shelves are currently overflowing with all sorts of titles – some for study, some for leisure, some for inspiration, some I’m not even sure why I bought them. I’m hanging out for Madre to finish her Ph.D. at the end of the year so she can clean collection out a bit and maybe I’ll be able to find some spots for my ever-expanding collection on the many, many bookshelves that fill our home. I thought I’d make a little list of some of the titles that I’m currently longing for, firstly to remind myself to actually buy them, and also to (hopefully) provide a bit of inspiration for you to expand your own collection*. Here goes…

Frankie Spaces, Volume 2

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Unfortunately I missed out on getting my mitts on a copy of the first volume of Frankie’s Spaces book, so I’m desperate to get stuck into this one. I just love getting a peek into people’s homes, especially those of creative types. Those of you who know me will know how homewares-obsessed I am, which is just plain silly for someone who is unlikely to be able to move out of home for at least another five or so years. But then again, at least I know that when I move out I will know exactly how I want to decorate my own little space, with the help of this here compendium and my mother’s many, many homey mags.

My Heart Wanders – Pia Jane Bijkerk

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“What would happen if one day you decided to follow your heart? Where would it take you?” That’s the question Pia poses in her divine travel memoir/photo diary, My Heart Wanders. Now, I am not in the slightest bit a spontaneous person. I hate feelings of insecurity – in my surroundings, in my future, in myself, in those around me. Yet I often find myself drawn to all things whimsical and risk-taking and ‘follow your dreams’-y. Perhaps I do have a less sensible, logic-loving side to myself, and perhaps I should be paying more attention to it… If that’s so, this book will be my perfect source of inspiration. Click here for further glimpses inside this gorgeous little number.

What Katie Ate – Katie Quinn Davies

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I have a penchant for buying recipe books for their perceived usefulness, and then never actually using them. Katie Quinn Davies’ food photography is all kinds of lovely, so I’m hoping this book’s aesthetic appeal might actually convince me to cook up a storm more often (although I’m sure my family would be happier, and safer, if I didn’t). If a book can get the thumbs-up from both Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop website and Martha Stewart, it’s gotta be pretty decent, right?

Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls – David Sedaris

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I first stumbled across this curiously-titled collection of essays at a local gem of a book store/cafe/book club hub, The Mockingbird Lounge. I wasn’t game to snap it up then, but I sure am now. I’ve never read any of Sedaris’ work, but if there ever was a sign that I’ll like a particularly quirky book it’s this: The Sydney Morning Herald wasn’t a big fan. It’s had good responses on Goodreads though, and I think the look of the cover will complement the other picks in this list (yes I am that shallow).

The Fictional Woman – Tara Moss

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Tara Moss‘ appearance on Q&A a couple of weeks ago proved to me once and for all that the woman is nothing if not well-informed. She knows her stuff, and makes a point of doing so. She showed up most of the other panel members on this front, which impressed me mightily. I’m interested to see whether she conveys her messages as eloquently in print and to see if I have as many “YESSS, ME TOOO!” moments reading this memoir/social commentary as I did listening to her on the tele.

Anything John Green

With the new movie, The Fault in Our Stars, proving uber popular amongst my fellow not quite teen/not quite adults, I figure I’d do well to give some of John Green’s stuff a go. I usually find adolescent fiction characters a bit too self-indulgent and melancholy, but perhaps that’s what adolescence is like… I’m undecided, but maybe Green will help me make up my mind.

*This has nothing to do with the fact that my 20th birthday is fast approaching. Nothing, whatsoever.

Oak on Unley

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I’m a fan of anywhere that offers all-day breakfast so Oak on Unley was off to a good start with that one! The interior is suitably hipster-chic for the inner ‘burbs and I looooove the blackboard wall behind the counter that displays the drinks menu. The low bench-like tables (on the right side as you go in) are a bit of a hazard and the friend I was dining with ended up with a couple of splinters – yikes!

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My gal pal and I were almost tempted by the crepes (which come in sweet or savoury, gluten-ous or gluten-free) but in the end settled on ‘lazy sunday’ baked eggs (me) and the egg stack (her). Both decent value for money but in my serve the bread to oozy baked tomato (which was delish, by the way) ratio was all out.

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Decent coffee and free wifi were had (just ask the staff for login details) and the team was super friendly so that perked us up despite splinters and lack of bread – we’re quite easily pleased. Oak on Unley makes a perfect spot for a caffeine top-up before or after a hardcore shopping sesh at the Unley Metro.
In the famous words of the terminator: “I’ll be back [for the crepes].”

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The Market Shed on Holland

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I’m a big fan of markets. I love their friendly, buzzing atmosphere and I love supporting local businesses, especially producers. Turns out my Dad feels the same way. This morning we headed out for some father-daughter bonding foodie time at The Market Shed on Holland, the new kid on the Adelaide market block. The markets run every Sunday 9am-3pm in, funnily enough, a market shed on Holland Street (just behind the Gilbert Street IGA) and have a focus on wholefoods and organics. Some stallholders are permanent fixtures and some rotate through, keeping things fresh (pardon the pun) every week.

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Dad loved the quirky band and Mother and Sons bakery’s gorgeous display of crusty, delicious breads.

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I was a fan of the delish raw sweets and treats (my latest foodie obsession) offered by Bona Food, Raw Karma and Living Table.

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We came away with a bag full of deliciousness for our respective lunches that included a jar of olive tapenade, semi-sour baguette and custard tart (Dad) and a veggie Nori roll, drinking coconut, rosemary honey walnuts and a gluten and dairy-free chocolate slice (me).

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Ever the sweetheart, Dad grabbed a little jar of super sweet-smelling flowers and a custard tart to take home for Ma too.

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I’d probably recommend hitting up The Market Shed for brekkie or brunch and then buying stuff to take home too because there was so much Dad and I missed out on trying and too much to possibly limit to just one meal of the day! That’s my plan of action for next time, anyway!

Lxx