Gramercy Espresso + Eats is a lovely little cafe tucked into the nook under Winnie Bridals' Wintergarden staircase. I've been a huge fan of theirs since they ground their first beans back in January but it took me until last Friday to finally try their smashed avocado toast: it was spectacular! It was in this heavenly, avocado-fuelled daze that I posed a few questions to proprietor Mitch Suchowacki...
First things first, Gramercy is not your first (or indeed smallest) foray into the world of coffee and treats. Tell us a little bit about how this all came about?
It all started from my Dad saying, 'you should open an espresso bar'. He's said it many, many times but on this occasion the stars were aligned + I was ready for something new. That's when CIE, my first venture, opened on the corner of Brunswick + Wickham Streets, Fortitude Valley, in 2009. I had never made coffee before so I dove straight into the deep end, learning how to run a business + most of all how to make coffee... well.
I was itching for a new challenge late last year + out of nowhere we found this gem of a cupboard under the stairs. It was a mammoth process getting the doors open but what a thrill it's been!
What were the most valuable lessons you learned from CIE that have impacted the way you do things at Gramercy?
The most valuable lesson I learned from CIE was not to let anyone tell you what to do. Make sure you listen to friends + family and take their advice on board but at the end of the day when you have your own business you need to be 100% comfortable with every decision.
I learned so many things about budgeting, bookkeeping + the general day to day running of a business. I made millions of mistakes but you learn from these + it's all good experience in the end.
You guys have obviously worked really hard to establish a brand that is consistently legible, without being too literal, across your fitout + printed collateral. Did you have help or tackle everything yourself?
I had tonnes of help! Dane Louie, my partner in crime, was a massive source of inspiration + guidance. We pretty much came up with the design ourselves + then worked with a retail designer to formulate the plans + nut out the specifics.
Luke Hollamby took care of most of the graphic design + branding. Credit for the awesome chevron print goes to Luke, which we canvassed onto the wall + then used across most mediums. As we speak we're getting the pattern printed onto fabric to use on jam jars + as gift wrapping.
Most of the sourcing was done from around Australia. The glassware comes from an artist in Tasmania, crockery from Country Road + many smaller items like the perspex cubes + menu boards from businesses in Brisbane. In saying that we did get a pallet of glass jars shipped over from America!
A good deal of our furniture came from Brisbane's antique centres. We wanted to make sure that the space didn't feel too sparkling new so we integrated some pieces like wooden milk crates + a timber ladder from the 60s to make the space more homely.
There was many a night spent trolling through years of back-issues of Vogue Living + Belle researching, sourcing + drooling.
It would be lax of me not to ask a question about the food! All of it is so fresh + simple, what's the philosophy behind the menu + how do you go about creating such delicious fare in such a tiny space?
That's exactly it... fresh. All our ingredients are on the shelves + they're always being used. We try not to get too fancy with our menu, creating dishes that are simple + homely with an interesting twist. We drive to the markets two or three times a week to source produce from local growers so we're constantly changing our menu to suit what we find.
It's an art form working in such a small space. With no fully-fledged kitchen we use a select few pieces of equipment + work them like crazy!
Our latest 'gadget' is a Sous Vide. It's a great way to cook and is the secret to our 24 Hour Beef Cheek Taco. Insider tip: there's an epic Pulled Pork Brioche Roll on the way!
What's next for you + for Gramercy?
My personally, I wouldn't have a clue... the sky's the limit! At Gramercy HQ, we have a few truly great things happening over the next few months but I won't be the one to ruin the surprise.
Finally, where do you look to for a bit of creative inspiration?
Creativity is all around us. Other cafes and restaurants in Brisbane + Australia are great for inspiration. There are so many exciting things going on at the moment. Design-wise, magazines like (inside) + Artichoke are great whilst blogs like The Design Files + Design Sponge are just good daily reading. Above all though, the team we have at the moment is most inspiring! It's a joy to come to work every day.