When Covid-19 came to town last year, cafe owner Penny Wolff was blown away by the community support.
“There was a level of trust that we saw from locals, and that was such a gift,” she says. “They care about you, that you’re going to come through the other side.”
That was at Big Bad Wolff and Wolff Coffee Roasters, the heaving Hendra coffee roastery and training centre Penny operates with husband Peter Wolff. But at the couple’s other business, Dandelion & Driftwood, it was a different story.
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“We’d opened at the Brisbane International Airport,” Penny says. “Obviously with Covid we realise we’re now probably another year away from international travel returning … That’s obviously the saddest part about being at airports at this particular phase of Covid – you’ve got everything sitting out there and there are just no signs of life.”
Dandelion & Driftwood had helped put specialty coffee on the map in Brisbane back in 2010 when it debuted in a poky shopfront on Hendra’s Gerler Road. But that outlet’s closure in 2018 and the subsequent move to the airport had already wrong-footed the Wolffs slightly after they learned the new spot would be sitting behind customs – for most, the only way to visit was to fly international.
It would be easy to imagine the arrival of Covid as the end of the line for Dandelion & Driftwood. Instead, though, later this month the cafe is returning to where it all began, opening again on Gerler Road – this time in the beautiful old Queenslander corner store perhaps best remembered as Mario at the Dining Room (more recently it was brunch cafe The Hamptons, and then fried chicken restaurant Chook Wings & Beer). The classic VJ-board timber walls and corrugated roof of the building remain, as does its beautiful outdoor courtyard, but the Wolffs have sharpened it up with a fresh coat of white paint and a pair of burgundy doors. Inside, the main dining room is complemented by a private dining space and an area of low-set furniture for coffee, cake and high teas.
For food, expect Dandelion & Driftwood’s classy take on brunch and lunch to return with a menu featuring a breakfast burger, house-made savoury mince, traditional corn and zucchini fritters, and avo on toast, as well as both savoury and sweet waffle dishes. There’s also a high tea menu (for which you’ll need to book) and a dinner menu that will run Thursday through Saturday.
For coffee, Dandelion & Driftwood will be tapping sister venue Wolff Coffee Roasters for two house blends, two single origins, and four filter options that include two sourced from celebrated Panama coffee farm Hacienda La Esmeralda. Otherwise, there will be a range of 21 teas courtesy of D&D’s tea partner Tea Drop; a small selection of smoothies and freshly squeezed juices; and wine, beer and signature cocktails.
“We’re back to where it all started,” Penny says. “At Wolff down the road it’s coffee, an espresso bar and high-volume takeaway. This is much more of an experience. You’ll come in and sit and think, ‘Yep, wow. This is cool.’”
Dandelion & Driftwood will open at 20 Doncaster Street, Hendra in late February.