Callum Dinnison had been looking for a cafe to buy for a couple of years when he saw Gilles Street’s Fawn appear for sale on Gumtree. “I loved it straight away,” he says. “The thing about this side of the city is it’s very suburban. You come here – to this cafe especially – and you don’t feel like you’re in the city.”
Dinnison knows the area well. He lives just a two-minute drive from his new business. He officially took over six months ago, but waited until the new year to rebrand. “I wanted to make sure I got to know all the customers and didn’t scare them [away],” he says. “Everyone’s really responding well to the changes, which is awesome.”
Fawn had its final trading day on December 12 and reopened on January 6 as Mister Pigeon. The 1870s corner store retains the cosy, neighbourhood feel of its predecessor but has undergone a personality overhaul. The records on the wall are choice cuts from Dinnison’s own collection (“I never listen to anything past the eighties,” he says) and there’s a new community book exchange. “We’ve already had a couple of people put bookmarks in,” he tells us. Dinnison’s also added couches and a few other personal odds and ends – even nanna’s lamp. “My house looks like it’s been robbed!” he says.
Tattoo artist Dave Quintel (Wolf & Wren) drafted the cafe’s logo (an aristocratic pigeon with a top hat and monocle), and Henry Jarman (Myth, Convene Studio) applied the graphic identity. And the name? “I find pigeons hilarious,” says Dinnison, “[and] they’re a city-based bird.” Also, “Pigeons love bread, and I love bread,” he says.
This love for loaves has also manifested in a toastie challenge that will see 52 different sandos served up over 52 weeks. First up is the Taking Pear of Business – roast pork with pear, a balsamic reduction, gorgonzola and rocket – and the vegan Chick Please!, made with avocado, hummus, tomato, cucumber, carrot, alfalfa and spinach.
Regulars will be relieved to see fan favourites such as the house-made sausage roll still on the menu and Dawn Patrol coffee beans in the grinder. Cakes are either made in-house or come courtesy of local baker Claire Patton.
Dinnison is making an effort to be as eco-conscious as possible. BYO cups earn you 20 cents off your coffee order, as does returning a takeaway drinks tray. There’s no single-use plastic to be seen. “As much as we can, we’re trying to lower our carbon footprint,” he says.
Dinnison is also introducing late-night events one Friday each month. Expect board-game nights, quizzes, drag bingo, movie screenings, slam poetry and more.
269 Gilles Street, Adelaide
08) 8359 2974
Mon to Fri 7.30am–3.30pm
Sat to Sun closed