The Sweatshop Cafe is still relatively new to Townsville, but in less than two years it has racked up an excellent reputation for friendly service, delicious merlot coffee and scrumptious gourmet jaffles oozing with mozzarella. This café-cum-gallery brings the daylight and street culture to Townsville's bustling club strip on Flinders Street, in the downtown CBD.
On their website you will find the definition of 'sweatshop': noun; a shop employing workers at low wages, for long hours, and under poor conditions. I worked many years in hospitality roles, I concur. However, this Townsville café always seems to be filled with smiles so it can't be creating low staff morale!
Yummy Jaffles at The Sweatshop Cafe.
The Sweatshop has brought back the humble jaffle and done wonderful things to it. You can choose from a wide variety of different fillings (tomato, sweet potato, ham, beef, onions, relish, egg, spinach, ricotta, etc) and they aren't fazed if you swap out an ingredient to make your ideal tasty snack. My favourite is the 'Burrito' – I switch the beef up for sweet potato. The 'Eggsellent' is also very good. For the sweet-tooth amongst us there is a gooey jaffle of marshmallows and nutella on puff pastry or the 'Apple Pie' filled with apples, cinnamon and maple syrup. Pair your mouthwatering selection with a fresh made juice (anything with pineapple and mint for me) and finish with a silky-smooth cappuccino.
Although the main-stage act is the jaffle coming in at an easy $7, The Sweatshop has a wide range of burgers, wraps, salads and breakfast options. There are plenty of vego choices to keep us herbivorous lovers satisfied too. And for the eco-conscious coffee-swirler you will be relieved to know that The Sweatshop use environmentally friendly cups and paper bags. Phew!
A little bit of Melbourne's hip aesthetic has made its way to Townsville. Inside the Sweatshop a large graffiti style mural dons one side of the cafe. The opposing, exposed red brick wall hosts local artist's paintings and photographs, available for purchase. This gallery-style lifts the game and artist's works are rotated monthly. You will find the local street-rag here and posters for up-coming gigs. Perspex chairs are the "it" in cafe design, but if they are not comfy enough for your bony bottom you might want to snag the lounge. Also, you can go alfresco with a well-positioned pavement spot to chill out and people watch if you prefer to enjoy the elements of Townsville's weather.
The Sweatshop encourages you to stay and play for as long as you want and you truly feel comfortable there, never feeling pushed out the door. They offer a variety of board games to while away the time, but whenever I go I take along my own backgammon set. The tunes, like the vibe, are funky. Free Wi-Fi is also on offer if you want to carry along your laptop and get some work done or surf the net.
The Sweatshop group is incredibly friendly, cute and hip. Each time I wander into this cafe I feel transported to Fitzroy, Melbourne, without the extortionate prices emptying my wallet. The kids dress in retro clothes, with styled haircuts, but come without the Melbourne attitude – a refreshing change. The Sweatshop also hosts local events and are available for hire for functions. Find further details here.