On Hay Street in West Perth many cafes have come and gone but Joe's Cake Shop and West End Cakes have sat side-by-side, quietly serving up weapons of mass distraction to the suited and booted every weekday.
West End Cakes is your school tuckshop, with middle-aged mums in aprons behind the counter. At Joe's you'll find the family, from French-trained Joe and his son in the kitchen to his daughter in the office. Stepping through the plastic strips into Joes or opening the fly-screen door to West End, both have held on to that country bakery charm that's missing from the trendy cafes and burgundy bakeries these days.
Each store serves up sweet and savoury, healthy and wicked. You'll find hot pies and sausage rolls, cakes, pastries and freshly made sandwiches, which are either ready and waiting or made on request. Joe's even has a fruitbowl to soften the guilt of that jam and cream doughnut that went so well with your cheese and bacon pie.
You would think there would be rivalry from these two businesses and perhaps there is. Their prices are similar but remain quite reasonable in comparison to many of the more upmarket establishments in the area. Cheese and salad on a soft, fresh-baked horseshoe roll cost $6.80 from Joe's, while a large mudcake for my last day at work was $28 from West End. Dense, chocolatey and tasting like it's been made by your nanna, this was total value for money in comparison to the pre-frozen ones from the big bakery chains. After bringing it in to work I'm no longer allowed to leave!
Despite the competition there's also a sense of cooperation. Over Christmas one business closes for a few days while the other holds the fort. Once they're back, relaxed and rested it's the other's turn for a week's break. Considerate, coordinated and customer-focused, there's a reason they've stood the test of time.