"The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity" - Dorothy Parker
Published September 17th 2018
A bean-all and befriend-all "hole-in-the-wall"
There's a new, fresh-faced kid on the block which, notwithstanding its diminutive size, is striving to fill a noticeable gap in Inverloch's cafe scene. The Local has been drawing locals and visitors alike to its perky premises on Williams Street for the past sixteen months. "See change" owners Nathan and Fran Warren needed vision, determination and strong cups of courage when they took the plunge to transform a forlorn florist shop, lacking even basic amenities, into the vibrant cafe it is today.
Running a cafe business, with its long hours and no guarantee of a reliable income, was a huge leap of faith for the couple. Nathan and Fran have embraced the challenge, finding the energy to juggle their role as cafe owners with nursing careers and parenting their three young children. Placing their business squarely at the centre of the town - customers of the cafe have a commanding view along the length of Inverloch's main shopping street - was the first step towards realising the Warrens' goal of establishing The Local as a community hub.
The cafe's connections with local suppliers and artisans are evidence of its community-focused credentials. The cafe uses Gippsland Jersey milk and the gorgeous mugs and cups for customer beverages are the work of Zak Chalmers, of nearby Valley Plains Pottery. The Local stocks a range of Chalmers' pottery beakers and offers a small discount of fifty cents to customers bringing their own cups. The striking paintings on the cafe's walls are the work of Cape Paterson artist, Maryanne Plenkovich, whose distinctive creations are inspired by native flora and the area's unspoiled, coastal panoramas.
For someone with no professional grounding in the fields of hospitality or catering, Nathan seems to know his coffee and his way around his La Marzocco coffee machine. The Arabica house blend, sourced from Melbourne, is produced by Allpress Espresso, a New Zealand company which hot air-roasts its beans in preference to drum-roasting. The beans don't burn and the result is a smooth, sweet-tasting coffee with no trace of bitterness. Nathan makes a decent cup but what he can't do is whip up a million-a-minute so if you go at the height of summer you need to be patient, people...don't be like one curmudgeonly customer who suggested, in all seriousness, that the Warrens needed to buy a second coffee machine to keep up with demand.
There isn't a huge amount of space inside but well-positioned furnishings, large windows and a monochrome-with-wood, on-trend colour palette makes the interior feel airy and comfortable. More seating is available courtesy of a small courtyard at the back of the cafe, which I imagine would be very appealing during clement weather. My OH and I probably chose the chilliest, wettest and windiest September day ever for our visit, so sought refuge indoors over coffee and a shared lunch of Zucchini and Corn Fritters, with avocado, smoked salmon and salsa.
The fritter dish tasted as good as it looked. Actually, I liked the sound of all the day's specials and would have been happy to order any of them. I have to give a special mention to the home-made Flourless, Orange Cake on display in the food cabinet. Oh my. If there's such a thing as a femme fatale of cakes, this one would have to be it and a bit. I couldn't imagine eating it - it's all too beautiful. Luckily for The Local, a number of its customers clearly haven't felt the same way, judging by the sizeable portion removed from the cake before I clapped eyes on it.
Look up The Local the next time you're in Inverloch. This "hole-in-the-wall" cafe is already making a big, tasteful impression on the town - and I suspect has only just begun its quest to inject new life into Inverloch. The Local today; The General tomorrow?