James and Shika Furminger weren’t looking to start a cafe. The newlyweds, who met while teaching at a local primary school, stumbled upon the venue after arriving at their local bowls club for “a bowl and beer”.
“We got hungry, and enquired [about] what happened to the cafe [formerly Arthur’s Green],” recalls Shika. The place was vacant and open for applicants. “Being a passionate cook and James a foodie, we thought this was a great opportunity and said, ‘Yes we can do this’.”
They opened Bula Vinaka (which translates to a warm “hello” in Fijian) to introduce both Fijian and Indo-Fijian food to the locals, paying homage to Shika’s heritage (Suva-born of Indian descent). Indo-Fijian food uses ingredients commonly found in the Pacific (think curries mixed with coconut, ginger and root crops). “It’s very different to Indian cooking,” Shika says.
For now, the menu is limited to coffee, HRVST cold press juices, smoothies, bowls and sweets (both banoffee and red velvet cupcakes are standout sellers), along with a few Indo-Fijian savoury dishes (chickpea salads, or spicy noodle cakes with homemade relish).
“We’d also like to introduce Fijian desserts, like cassava and coconut.” The coffee is Campos’s Superior Blend accompanied by a selection of teas from Origin Tea – an Australian-owned, family-run company that sources tea from Sri Lanka.
The cafe adjoins the Red Hill Community Sports Club and the two now work in partnership. Alcohol can be purchased from the club with food and other drinks from the cafe. Outdoor seating – recycled bowls club benches, naturally – shared between the venues.
The rest of the fit-out and decoration amounts to a potted frangipani, decorative counter tiling and artificial turf. But this low-key treatment adds to the relaxed feel of the place, the surrounding bowling greens and bushland doing the rest. Future plans include extended trading hours, live music and a rooftop area – “The view and breeze up there are amazing,” Shika says.
22 Fulcher Road, Red Hill
Tue to Sun 6am–12pm