Matinee Cafe – Marrickville
Juggler installed – 2018
Number of Milk Bottles Saved – 7500
What is your name and where are you from?
Charles Cameron – Born and bred in Sydney Australia.
What made you decide to go into business as a cafe owner?
Been in the hospitality in the cafe business for over 10 years. I started off working in cafes and businesses that other people owned. It evolved to managing and then becoming a part owner and director. It’s kind of been a long process of professional development and learning. The experience led me to the place where I am now professionally and starting my own business.
It’s not just been one thing in particular there’s been kind of a multitude of reasons why. I’ve really love working in the industry and felt like I had things to say which led and inspired me open my own business.
It’s pretty hands to run a cafe and it’s been a great way to tribute to the community. There is a sense of immediacy on how you can positively affect people’s lives with our line of work and that’s a big motivation that keeps me going.
How long have you been in the coffee industry? 10 years
How did you get your idea or concept for the business?
Our whole concept stems from the word “Matinee”. The connotations that I feel surrounds the daytime show. It’s the sense of occasion. Like going to matinee movie when you’re a kid… It was something fun. A real sense of occasion. To me, it really correlated nicely with a lot of my thoughts about cafe culture particularly in Australia where it is mainly a daytime event.
It is a daytime show. People who live in Australia are very proud of the cafe culture. The most common things I hear when people come back from overseas is “Oh I really miss the cafes” or “The good quality coffee of Australia” So I think that these are the things that we can be very proud of as part of the cafe culture of Australia. Our industry sends a good message for Australian exports overseas.
To Australians, “Cafe” is like what the “Bistro” is for the French. It’s something you know, it’s an intersection of culture and culinary experience. A vehicle for which various types of cuisine and experiences is delivered to people. The word “Matinee” is what it conjures up to me. There’s definitely a sense of the theatricality that comes through in the space and mixed in with illusions of old milk bars and a diners. We have a very kind egalitarian space where it doesn’t have a sense of exclusivity in the way that sometimes a restaurant do but it still feels special. It’s a nice place for people to take part in as part of their day.
What was your mission at the outset?
My mission for Matinee came about from my experience as a business owner. The whole thing of business is that hindsight is 20/20. In my previous business, we had a space which was two levels and I learnt a new skill set about what I wanted to communicate in the space and how I wanted people to interact with the space. I was going into this area of Marrickville where I live in next suburb so I knew the area quite well. So I just knew that this is the kind of space that needed to be something that really catered to a real cosmopolitan crowd. That kind of included young families to retired people. The space needed to be really comfortable and something that’s a real and enjoyable for cross-section of people so they can interact in the space and feel like valued regulars.
That was a big part of my motivation. Going into an area and just hoping that you’re going to do something which is going to mean that you’ll be a destination is great. And I think you definitely should have that wishful thinking. However I do think that you got to look after the people in your own backyard who live around the corner from you because if it’s torrential rain or it’s a 40 degree day, they are the customers who will still come in, whereas sometimes destination cafe customers might not.
What is your vision long term?
It’s kind of multifaceted, we roast all our own coffee in a shared roasting facility. We’re exploring the avenues associated to an area of growth for the business to potentially having a couple of wholesale accounts. Working with neighbouring partner cafes to use our coffee is one part and we also make all of our own pastries in house.
Being part of a cosmopolitan area of Western Sydney, we’ve got a lot of products which cater to different dietary requirements. Trying to get some of those products elsewhere in the marketplace is another goal that we have. We’re always looking options with the whole concept in mind. Exploring ways at making better use of hours outside of the core hours of Cafe service. The next phase is trailing a couple of evenings of trade and using the space to host events. We’ve hosted the reception of one wedding and we’re looking to do things like that in the future. Restaurant pop ups in the evening are also on the cards. We’ve kind of Pennsylvania a couple of those for later and so on.
So really it’s a combination of all of that which formulates a lot of Matinee’s goals for 2019.
To what do you attribute your success to?
I attribute my success to having the patience to really get to know our customers. To learn from mistakes and not take it as a personal criticism. When I started out I was very personally attached to any kind of concepts that I would come with and a sense of ego would get in the way of changing or refining things for the business. Nowadays I’m a lot more willing to be adaptable and change things based on what’s working in the business and what the neighbourhood is responding to.
I appreciate any success that I have had and contribute most of it to the ability to respond and change when required. The fortitude to sometimes stick it out with a particular part of the business that is a long term goal that may not rate as immediate success. As an example, we employed a pastry chef full time to make all of our pastries. It’s not something that’s paid for itself from day one but it’s something that will in the long term.
It helps us differentiate our business from the rest of the pack. We learn as much as we can from our journey and believe that in time, it will work and flourish.
If you had one piece of advice to someone just starting out, what would it be?
One piece of advice is, as a business owner you’re really the backbone of the business. So that means you have to look after yourself, look after your own mental health because your business success will be forever handicapped if you’re not in the right headspace to make decisions that you are constantly required to make.
At this stage, perhaps we flip back in to the SSM philosophy around business – Today Six Simple Machines believes in six simple philosophies of good business – To be Sustainable, Ethical, Efficient, Profitable, Innovation and Passion.
Six Simple Machines believes in six simple philosophies of good business – To be Sustainable, Ethical, Efficient, Profitable, Innovation and Passion.
What are your thoughts on these philosophies? Are these anyway in line with how you aim to run your business?
Sustainability is very important to all industries, including the ours. There are many decisions as cafe owners that can be beneficial for the planet and also help communicate a sound foundation of values. For example, we’ve switched to reusable or compostable straws, a waste management plan where food scraps and other compostable is turned into forms of energy.
There are a lot more avenues for business owners to look into adopting sustainability practices than there were five years ago. We’re also looking to make some of your own products that can have very beneficial impacts on the environment and always looking to our suppliers to try and do away with any forms of packaging that are harmful. It’s a lot easier now than in days gone by. It’s something that our regular customers are interested in and it is great marketing for your business.
If you can be living and communicating that message, you are engaged with not just running a business that is successful but one that is sustainable as well.
How did you come across the Juggler?
I’ve known about the Juggler and I’ve used the Juggler for many many years. When the boys were at Single Origin Roasters, I was working there so I got to play with the prototypes of the machine. Then when I had my own business Brewtown in Newtown, we had a Juggler installed and when it came time to have another business that was mine it was really something I didn’t think or deliberate on getting one. It’s been wonderful to see the Juggler in action in a whole bunch of other cafes as well as the mechanics and the support regarding the equipment. It just seems to be getting better and better and better.
For me, it’s like having driven a hybrid car for the past 10 years. It’s reached a point where using the Juggler is something that I know is better than the alternatives. I haven’t had to deal with the alternatives for a long time and there’s a reason why I’ve chosen to stick with it across multiple venues.
To date we have saved over 16.5 million milk bottles to date. How do you feel about that?
That number is staggering. it’s wonderful but bitter sweet. To know that that number of milk bottles have not had to go into production, makes me think that it’s a lot of waste in a relatively small amount of time…
The guys at Six Simple Machines have done an excellent job with the Juggler to enable us to contribute to the war on waste in a way that we can quantify. Our responsibility for sustainability can be taken more up the food chain.