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Campbell’s newest cafe, which opens this Friday, is all about taking things back to basics.
Located on Constitution Avenue, Teddy Picker’s airy loft space would be at home in New York or Melbourne, so Canberrans should count themselves lucky that the team chose to keep their vision local.
After working at some of Canberra’s top-shelf hospitality joints (The Cupping Room, ONA on the Lawns, Stand By Me, and The Artisan, just to name a few), co-owners Caleb Evans, Olivia and Matt Rollings and Mark Raets decided that it was time for them to make their mark on Canberra.
“We all got together six months ago, saw the space and it was just time,” explains Olivia.
“We talked about it a fair bit and decided we had the experience and the team to pull it off,” adds Caleb. “It was a long journey but the right timing.”
The name Teddy Picker’s was suggested by Matt after an Arctic Monkeys song and kept because of its blank canvas appeal.
“We just wanted something that didn’t really mean anything,” explains Olivia. “It also matches up well with our range of ‘Teddy Pickles’ preserves,” adds Mark.
The group’s wealth of institutional knowledge is apparent in everything from the fit out to the menu.
The cafe’s layout is spacious, with a clean, minimalist fit out maximising the impact of the soaring ceilings. Caleb explains that what really sold the location was the addition of a loft-style space in the back corner of the cafe. Accessible to the public by a staircase, the ‘Lounge Room’ is fitted with comfy lounges and a seriously impressive collection of vintage vinyl – the perfect place to house Caleb’s record player and for students to take advantage of the free wifi.
Caleb explains that the owners saw no need to cover up the concrete walls or ceiling and instead sought to maximise the ‘functionality’ of the existing space. This was achieved with help from design team Capezio Copeland, who have fitted out some of our other favourite Canberra venues such as XO, and guidance from building company Summerset Constructions, who the team say they couldn’t have done it without.
“We wanted something that was unique,” Caleb explains.
A palette of greys, blues and black runs through the cafe, with a huge floating bookcase serving as both a feature wall and a divider between the ‘take away’ section at the front and the seated section to the right.
The assortment of objects on the bookcase (from vintage china and preserves to a full set of the Twilight novels) is a great representation of the team’s approach to hospitality – simple, fun and tongue in cheek.
Caleb says that the team’s combined hospitality experience had them seeking the most comfortable yet functional layout possible for their venue, so service could be the very best.
“This is a mixture of all of our ‘likes’,” explains Olivia. “It’s not anything we could have imagined – it’s better.”
As for the menu, Chef Matt explains that the menu will be simple, fresh, local and delicious – and there’s not much more to it than that.
“We like to think of it as ‘humanly driven’,” he says. “It’ll be breakfast and lunch so it’ll be very simple cooking, but delicious – the best ingredients we can get and not doing too much to them. There’s something for everyone and we want to be as open as possible, it people want to change a dish they can. We want people to enjoy it the way they want to enjoy it – it’s their food and their time here. We’re just here to feed them and sort them out.”
This is a pretty refreshing approach to menu creation, and I for one welcome this equal and opposite reaction to the limited and finite menus of some of Canberra’s other brunch spots. The team also want to make their menu accessible to those with intolerances and allergies.
“We want to instil it in our staff that we think the food is delicious as it is, but if there’s an allergy or [a customer] doesn’t like something, we want to make sure they feel comfortable,” explains Olivia.
Teddy Picker’s will use all local ingredients where possible, including Country Valley milk and Red Brick Espresso coffee.
Mark also explains that the team will operate a system where customers can bring their excess fresh produce to the cafe and exchange it for coffee or food.
“If people have an overload of fruit or vegetables they won’t use and their relatives are sick of getting them, we’ll take them via a trade system,” he explains.
It’s great to see the next generation of Canberra hospos make their mark on the Canberra food scene. These are the people who could have taken their skills, experience and vision elsewhere and instead have chosen to pour it back into our community – something that should never be taken for granted.
Photography by Ashley St George