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July 28, 2016
Habits

New café from the Argo stable

New café, sans hype.

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  • Words: Johnny von Einem
  • Pictures: Julian Cebo

This was not a difficult opening to miss.

Observant drivers skirting Wellington Square in North Adelaide over the last few weeks may have noticed a sandwich board in the southern corner advertising a coffee and juice bar of no apparent name.

Remarks

You can find the café without a name at 2 Wellington Square, North Adelaide.

The café hiding behind the equally non-descript frontage is the latest project from Argo’s Daniel Milky.

It’s a site the restaurateur has been sitting on for a year, and has finally decided to do something with.

“It’s just one of those things,” Daniel says.

“You’re so busy during the day that you just forget. My to-do list is forever, and this is out of sight out of mind for me, so one day I was like ‘oh shit, I’ve got a shop in North Adelaide sitting there, I better do something with it.’”

An Argo team was assembled and within 48 hours a café was etched out of half of the space, with the other half to be constructed as Daniel gets a feel for what the locals are after.

“There’s a lot of locals here and people are going to take ownership of the shop, and that’s what I want them to do. I want them to have a say about how this evolves,” Daniel says.

“I really want this as the local community shop, [and for people to] use the park a lot more, [and] this is what we’re speaking with Adelaide City Council now about as well… because I think this is so underutilised.”

CityMag can report that from the mezzanine level, there’s certainly some aesthetic benefit provided by the park, but we take Daniel’s point.

While the signatures of Argo – the cakes and Monastery-roasted beans – are present, the name won’t adorn the walls until the space is more settled.

“There’s a lot of locals here and people are going to take ownership of the shop, and that’s what I want them to do.”

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“I know what the site’s gonna look like, I know what’s gonna happen to it, and because of Jeffcott [Street], the amount of traffic that comes through… That’s why we’re not putting a name up now,” Daniel explains.

“It’s gotta be ready for that. It’s gotta be ready for everyone that’s gonna go ‘oh, there’s Argo there, expectations are [high], and we expect the full 300-item menu.’”

While the space’s final incarnation will be dictated by local demand, Daniel does have grand plans.

The ground level will be split into a coffee house on one side and a food-focussed space on the other. The mezzanine level will stay, with seating extending out onto a balcony (currently the verandah), and beside that, above the currently disused space, he plans to build a rooftop garden, extending his capacity and, again, making excellent use of the views of the park.

It seems like an ambitious project, but Daniel smiles at the suggestion.

“I’ve done Norwood. This is going to be easy compared to Norwood.”

His plans are, of course, all pending council approval, but Daniel’s hopes are high.

“Adelaide City Council’s been nice,” he says. “They’re very positive and they’re there to help, which is an attitude that local government should have.”

As for what effect the final product will have on the local area (beyond the hopeful activation of the Wellington Square park), Daniel hopes to foster an underserved market.

“If I come to O’Connell Street, I might come here for dinner, [but] daytime? No,” He says.

“The North Adelaide residents, they’re leaving the area currently and coming to Norwood and going to Burnside and going to those areas.

“I think everyone down here is stuck in the ‘90s or in the late-‘80s to some extent, and the offering’s not here. In Melbourne Street there’s a few places that are catering, but they’re itsy-bitsy, whereas we know what we can do, and we can cater for a lot more people.”

With no end date set, it all remains to be seen, but three weeks in and The Café Without a Name’s daily clientele is growing despite a distinct lack of hype, proving Daniel’s theory to some extent.

Whatever eventuates, Daniel has one guarantee.

“I just want to offer nutrient-dense food that’s gonna be yummy for everyone, basically.”

Seems simple enough.

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