The Lovebird Cafe
Ange and Neil are the owners of The Lovebird Cafe on High St Armadale, they are both newlyweds and new owners of this Armdale cafe, read what Neil had to say about the evolution of their business and the interior design of The Lovebird Cafe in my latest blog…
1) Did you have a clear vision for the interior design of your café?
Yes, we did have a clear idea of wanting to connect the way the space worked with our organic food, customer focused business ethos. We inherited some pieces such as the table and chairs, the wallpaper and the lighting. But we wanted to improve the feel and functionality of the space so we changed the configuration of the table settings and added 16 new seats to the space.
We wanted to bring the space to ‘life’ and one of my employees suggested adding the little pot plants on the tables. This helped make the space look inviting and tied in with our free range/organic food ethos.
Another way we added life to the space was to improve the existing ornamental lighting by removing the lamps shades and just having the exposed light bulbs as the feature. The exposed light bulbs gives the space a rustic feel which helps give it the welcoming atmosphere we wanted.
2) How long have you had the business?
Just over 12 months, this past February, Valentine’s Day was our 12 month anniversary which we celebrated by having love heart shaped chocolates on the tables, $2 coffees and I (Neil) wrote my Valentine message to Ange on one of the Cafe’s chalk boards.
3) What’s the origin or inspiration for the name of the cafe – The Lovebird Cafe?
We wanted to change the name of the business because the previous business hadn’t being doing well and we wanted a new fresh image. So given that we were just married and wanted to fill our cafe with love for what we do and for our customers, Ange suggested the name. Then the ‘penny dropped’ when we realised how appropriate the name was given our location in the heart of the Armadale wedding precinct. After that the branding and further marketing and promotion was easy and we developed our website and Facebook page.
4) Is there something part of the interior design that happened by accident?
You could say the whole business happened by ‘accident’. Just before signing the contract on the premises I (Neil) was working in IT and as a barista at the weekend, with future ambitions to start my own IT consultancy.
Ange and her mum were already in the hospitality industry running Ibella Cucina in Albert Park. Ange had suggested running a cafe together but I was really keen on IT consultancy.
Everything changed when one day a business broker told Ange about the space on High St in Armadale but still I wasn’t keen until by ‘chance’ while on the phone to a client and driving past the premises I decided to stop and take a look.
As I peered through the window I saw the opportunity and finally agreed to open a cafe with Ange, who completely trusted my judgement without having seen the space herself and we both haven’t looked back.
From an interior design perspective Ange saw the opportunity to turn old kitchen cupboards in our upstairs apartment into the chalk boards you see in The Lovebird Cafe today.
A combination of luck and opportunity and following intuition led us to where they are today.
5) From your experience of other cafes what was a ‘must have’ for your cafe?
A must have is an improvement to the functionality of the space, for example having a bar closer to the foot path so that passers by like dog walkers can order a coffee on the go. Also ideally, changing the configuration of the front bar so that the coffee machine is not the first thing customers see as automatically they want to order a coffee from the barista who’s usually too busy making coffees.
At this stage there are no plans to improve on these areas because two key areas ie the kitchen and the front bar are working and we need to weigh up the cost benefit of shutting the business for a period of time to make those changes, so maybe when we’ve been opened a bit longer. In future we know it’s important to get it right from the start.
6) What’s your favourite part of the interior?
The little pot plants, because the greenery has added life to the space. Neil said he would love to add more greenery at which point the interior designer in me couldn’t resist making a suggestion to add more green by adding a grean leaf motif wallpaper above the existing wallpaper.
7) What are the defining characteristics of your cafe that are similar to your own individual characteristics?
Passion and pride. This means we can create a unique customer experience where customers are not a commodity but part of the family. For example, we aim to remember all regular customers’ names and their coffee orders so that even when we see customers crossing the road by the time they come into the cafe their coffee is ready for them.
8) What are the underlying business values/ethos that are represented in the interior design.
Firstly, simplicity so simple ingredients that are put well together to create delicious meals Similarly, the interior design is simple but all the elements together create a fresh, welcoming space. Secondly, reasonable prices and third a welcoming space that keeps customers coming back.
9) Do you get any feedback about the interior from your customers?
Customers often say they love the wallpaper, the barstools, in fact someone offered to buy them and the picket fence which borders the cafe on the foot path. I think customers like the picket fence because it makes the cafe feel homely.
10) Anything else you love about the space or would like to say about your business?
In general both Ange and I ‘love it’ and in particular we love the vibe. One day while running an errand and heading back to the cafe I noticed the customers inside talking, laughing and enjoying their meals creating a great vibe which put a contented smile on my face. Music and acoustic textures also play a part in creating a great vibe and Ange and Neil are flexible with the sound level and type of music dependent on who’s in the cafe. Ange and Neil also love their team, who work hard to create a memorable welcoming experience for customers. It’s a basic philosophy but Ange and Neil believe that if their team are happy, they can happily serve their customers and provide an authentic experience.
Overall Ange and Neil are humble and grateful for the opportunity they’ve had to work together to create The Lovebird Cafe and just want to ‘share the love’.