First published on 10 May 2012. Updated on 20 Jun 2012.
Life’s going to be sweet for Bowen Holden when he hits 65. He and his pals are currently practicing their golf swings as part of their 'retirement plan', and, thanks to wisely naming his café after his grandmother, we reckon this kid's in line to get all the inheritance.
But you know what? Life is pretty sweet for Holden right now. His inner-city specialty coffee house is one of the hottest in Melbourne, despite the fact (or maybe because of the fact) that Patricia is standing room only and offers naught but black, white or filter coffee.
"We wanted to simplify some things and concentrate on others,” Holden tells us. That means basic food (pastries only), and offering a standard flat white, and long or short black. But then they push variety by rotating the beans (they use Seven Seeds, Market Lane and any other supplier they find interesting), and encourage filter coffees, offering smaller (cheaper) quantities to entice people to try them.
“This place couldn’t have turned out more like I imagined it,” says Holden. But that’s not surprising. “I knew this is what I wanted to do when I went to my first café at 14, and I thought it would be easy. But I started working at that same café the next week, and then I realised how hard it is.”
So, for 12 years Holden has sought out the best training grounds, working everywhere from St Ali (when Mark Dundon ran it) to Seven Seeds, before going it alone. Semi-alone, anyway. “Pip [Heath] is my unofficial business partner,” says Holden, (Heath's grandma is also called Patricia, conveniently), and along with their leather clad crew the pair make small business seem like a cake-walk.
Holden knows he’s lucky: “If I had unlimited money to build my team – like draft picks – I would have the same guys.”
See what we mean? Life in Holden town is sweet as a nut.
493-495 Little Bourke St, Melbourne. Mon-Fri 7am-4pm.
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