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November 22, 2023

Say hey to Hey Juj in McLaren Vale

Hey Juj, a café by day and wine bar by night, aims to be a point of difference for locals and tourists alike.

  • Words: Claudia Dichiera
  • Pictures: Supplied

Elliott Brown has always had a close relationship with his grandma, who has been supportive throughout all his hospitality jobs.


Hey Juj
150 Main Road, McLaren Vale 5171
Everyday: 6:30am ’til 3pm
Fri & Sat: 3pm ’til late


“It’s more so like quality time together. I’ve always been someone who works quite a lot,” Elliott says.

“I remember when I got a promotion at the Star of Greece, and they came down for lunch [to] celebrate.

“Always a massive one for supporting the family and supporting all of her grandchildren’s success.”

Elliott’s grandma is a familiar face in the area. She used to own the former restaurant Pipkins, and Elliott says “most people in McLaren Vale know who [she] is”.

So when Elliott decided to open up a café on Main Road, he knew exactly what to name it.

“I had decided if I was to open up my own business, I’d want to name it after our grandma,” Elliott says.

“It’s pretty exciting to be able to name it after her.”

The namesake

Hey Juj opened at the beginning of November and Elliott has made a conscious effort to not be just another eggs benny and smashed avo spot.

“I didn’t want to be just another generalised café,” Elliott says.

“We are not the only café in McLaren. There is a lot else on offer, I really wanted to have a point of difference.”

The proof is in the pudding — or at least the food offering.

“I just wanted to really be able to focus a bit on offering a more fresh menu and something a bit different to everyone else.”


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Hey Juj’s sando specials will vary “depending on the food that we can get in,” Elliott says.

“So, for this weekend, we have a roast turkey with chargrilled zucchini, cranberry, pecan relish, Camembert and spinach.

“We’ll change it up depending on what we can get… but we’ll change it up depending on what we have going on as well in the kitchen.”

Elliott’s top pick is the Juj Bowl — again, named after his grandmother Juj.

“You get to choose caramelised pork belly or tofu with some rice, edamame, mixed greens, pickled veg, coriander spring onion — all the yummy stuff. Got a bit of Kewpie mayo on there.” Elliott says. “It’s just really nice, fresh, light, healthy [and] something quick.”

Hey Juj wants to have a point of difference but smashed avo is a must on any brunch menu

Elliott says representation in the food offering is crucial. This means making menu items accessible to everyone.

“I really wanted to have quite a variety on the menu,” he says.

“Sometimes we’ll do a vegetarian sando, the smashed avo doesn’t have eggs so perfect for vegans.

“But I know with people who have dietary [requirements] sometimes how hard it is to come to places and they don’t have things on the menu to offer. I really wanted to be able to try and cater to everyone as best as I can.”

Hey Juj will be opening a wine bar on Friday and Saturday nights, in keeping with the McLaren Vale locale, but it will be different to other cellar doors close by.

“I just wanted to focus on something a bit more funky and cool in the region,” Elliott says.

“We have the pubs and we have all the wineries [but] they all close at five o’clock and then there’s not really anywhere else where people can go after that.

“I wanted to be able to have somewhere where people can come and have a bit of fun.”

With this late-night offering, Elliott says the food will be simple to keep a focus on the drinks and will include snacks and cheese boards.

Elliott Brown

The community feeling in McLaren Vale is strong and Elliott says the relationship between other businesses “can only flourish more if we support each other, rather than trying to compete”.

“It’s so important that you support everyone around you because most of us are all small businesses,” Elliott says.

“I think it’s so important to pick a few of the gems that we have, and really focus on that and send people to the wineries and things like that — I’m so about trying to support everyone as best as I can.”

This mindset stems from Elliott’s childhood in McLaren Vale and the sense of community he enjoyed.

“When I grew up… you would walk down the street and you would know who most people are and they know who you are,” he says.

“The name [I’ve made] for myself has gotten out. If you go that extra step with someone, they really do notice and they care.”

Hey Juj is located at 150 Main Road, McLaren Vale and is open every day from 6:30am until 3pm for brunch, then Friday and Saturday from 3pm until late for drinks.

Connect with the business on Instagram for more, or head to the website to make bookings for eight or more people.

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