Cafe Auchenflower ensures Brisbane's Inner West is Lifestyle BEST

Barry Osborne

Let me introduce you to one of my favourite coffee shops just 100 yards down the road. It has only been 2 years and 2 months, since Cafe Auchenflower first opened their doors in Haig Road. But now the Auchenflower and Milton residents would hate to think what life would be like without their own favourite cafe and coffee shop. It deserves to be included in the Brisbane’s Inner West success stories because it has surely secured a large number of regulars who just have to keep coming back.  

WP_20140802_08_15_45_ProCafe Auchenflower all started as a dream of Shelly Cooper whilst she was working as a School Co-ordinator for QUT in the city. Shelly was born in Brisbane but at the age of 11 went to the country to a small country town called Mungallala, which is about half way between Roma and Charleville with her parents. At the age of 16 she returned to Brisbane to finish her schooling and eventually went into the work force as an Administrative Officer. But her real desire was to be in her own business.

Now it is the aim of this blog to show suburbs like Auchenflower in Brisbane’s Inner West as a fantastic place to live, but even when it is in its worse state such as the 2011 floods, it attracts people which is unbelievable. But this was the case with Shelly. She was not necessarily looking to come to Auchenflower but she came to see the devastation of the flood and saw this wonderful character building, in a good location on a road with reasonable traffic for exposure and at this moment……. great for boats, but all she could say "What potential?"


Now the story gets even more interesting, in that her friend’s mother-in-law just so happens to be the owner and was operating an antique shop from the premises. So it just shows that good can follow some destructive events which could not hold back a determined woman’s vision (dream) to make something special so that the local people can celebrate everyday with that special coffee with their friends.

I put the question to Shelly “What do you like most about this area?”

She jumped at the question without a hesitation, “The community.” As she explained, it was never an intention to actually come to this area if it was not from seeing the ideal site for her dream. But once she opened her cafe she was just amazed at how nice the people were and the community spirit they had. She said they were so forthright but also so nice with their helpful opinions. She remembers at the start they did not have a large range of food and then slowly increased the range for breakfasts and lunch. She remembers one customer coming up and asking “Why is there no bacon & eggs on the breakfast menu?” Shelly explained that you can get bacon & eggs anywhere and very close by. The customer said “But we want bacon & eggs here not there.” So guess what, Shelly being a good business lady she is, listens to her customers, so now there is bacon & eggs on the menu, but not just any type but special benedict eggs with bacon.

Please peruse the Menu

The menu changes with each season and at times Shelly has found that changing the menu causes issues with her customers just as happened when Gran's Savoury Mince was taken off the menu because it had been on the menu for too long, so she thought. But that was not the opinion of the customers, they wanted it back. Guess what, they got it back because they just loved Shelly's Gran's recipe. This made one happy Granny also, to see her meal still alive and appreciated.

Shelly seems to have some affiliation with water.

There was another flood scare in 2012 and it looked very likely that Cafe Auchenflower was going to get a baptism. Shelly was amazed that at this time one of the owners of an opposition cafe in Rosalie the Pasta Pantry who she did not know, phoned to say that she had storage if she had to evacuate. During the peak of the rain, Shelly got concerned and decided she had to evacuate the bottom floor, the actual cafe. So she put on her Facebook Page that the Cafe was closing and they were in the process of evacuating the cafe. It was not known at the time but the flood water did not come but what did come was a flood of concerned residents and now friends to help with the evacuation. What a community spirit!

Shelly is constantly thinking of more that can be done.

The real differentiation of Cafe Auchenflower has been the relaxing atmosphere, with superb coffee and great food. It has become a great congregation point for the young mothers of the area but what is always a concern to mothers is if their babies or very young children get restless and become annoying to people around them. So Cafe Auchenflower has a very unique take-away service, which is coffee in the Torwood Park right next door, where now mothers can talk, have their relaxing great coffee and the kids can play.

It is part of Shelly's dream that Cafe Auchenflower could offer kerb side dining in the future and she is already thinking about expansion in the near future within the area. She lives above the cafe and is convinced that this is the area, the people, and the community that she wants to be very much a part. 

It has always been my belief that a good business is in fact a living entity and it gets its life from the people who work within it. Cafe Auchenflower is one such business that is very much alive and it is so obvious that all the people involved are very much wanting the operation to be a great success and they really enjoy the work they do.  Shelley has a great team in Katie and Tarnz (the chefs in the kitchen) and Anna and Abbie (the Baristas). These permanent staff are supported by the obliging casual staff.

 Any community is only as good as the people who live there and the businesses which operate within. The people need the businesses to operate in order to give the lifestyle they want. The businesses need the support from the people to ensure the success of the operations as business is never easy. So if you have not been to Cafe Auchenflower make certain you get there soon as you won't be disappointed and for those like me who have it as their favourite coffee spot, keep going. It is Great for Auchenflower. 

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