Opening a new cafe in the middle of a pandemic wasn’t part of her business plan, but Emily Raven is intent on making the best of a challenging situation.
Five years after launching My Kingdom For a Horse on Wright Street, Raven this morning unveiled her second outpost at Telegraph Lane, a new development linking Waymouth and Franklin Streets just west of King William Street. When fully occupied, the precinct will house seven cafes and restaurants.
The 13-square-metre space is, in many ways, a miniature of the Wright Street mothership – with a few key tweaks. The focus is coffee and easy, fresh, grab-and-go food. The skyscraper-lined strip isn’t exactly starved of lunch options, but Raven is confident she brings something new. “We’re not just giving people a hot drink,” she says. “We’re giving them a huge amount of flavour as well as transparency [about] where those beans have come from ... and our My Kingdom brand, which is really friendly, with great service.”
The store is managed by long-time barista Gennie Chee, who recently took on the role of head coffee roaster.
“Gennie joined us about three years ago,” Raven says. “I saw somebody really talented and committed, so I’ve been coaching her through building the coffee side of the business for us.” Every coffee served at the outpost – espresso and filter – has been sourced and roasted by Chee.
There’s no room for a kitchen, so all the food is prepped at Wright Street from 4am every day. Expect toasties stuffed with three cheeses and onion jam; smoked Hahndorf ham and cheese fondue; and truffled mushroom ragout; plus a killer Reuben, breakfast burritos, house-made coconut-chai granola, and salad bowls with falafel, chicken, smoked salmon and more.
Raven was invited to pitch for the site by CBRE, the developers of Telegraph Lane, more than a year ago.
“They were looking for purely local people with high-quality brands, and the timing was good,” she says. She’d been looking to grow her brand, and the venture offered the chance to be part of something new and exciting. A major selling point was the building’s environmental policy, which mirrors her own efforts.
“We’re now composting all of our own waste and our coffee cups, and all of our packaging is completely compostable,” Raven says.
Finessing the tiny venue was a collaborative process and a learning experience for Raven, whose background is in running full-scale restaurants.
“[The developers] really wanted to put a replica of My Kingdom For a Horse Wright Street in here, but that’s a mature business and I know that I can’t make that work,” she told us. “The margin on what you’re selling is too low to afford the rent on places like this, and you have no alcohol sales to bolster that.” Instead, the new store is built around high turnover and speedy service.
Raven paid special attention to the fitout, in order for staff to be able to work efficiently within the tight footprint. The design is clean and simple. The rectangular space has four large windows that open outwards – to a small, outdoor seating area to the north, and a shared, indoor foyer and meeting space to the south.
A customised, top-of-the-line Italian La Marzocco KB90 AVR espresso machine – a unit renowned for its speed and stability – sits proudly on the counter, ready to serve some of the 1300 office workers who will pass by it daily.
And after a brief Covid-19 hiatus, Raven is looking forward to resuming regular trade.
“It’s been wonderful to welcome back every single staff member we had when we closed [Wright Street for six weeks], plus several more who used to work for us,” she says. When hiring for the new store, Raven decided to only take on international students, many of whom are ineligible for the federal government’s Jobkeeper and Jobseeker payments.
“That’s part of our greater philosophy of who we are,” she says.
My Kingdom For A Horse
11 Waymouth Street, Adelaide
(08) 8410 7408
Mon to Fri 7am–4pm