It was always going to take someone special to adopt Avid Reader Cafe. The space, inside the Avid Reader bookstore in West End, had been a relaxed, no-fuss second home for locals for more than a decade until it closed mid-year.
In the case of new co-owners Mia Goding, Emily Newham and Renae Belton, it’s three special people. They’ve reopened the space as the kid-friendly Avid Reader Kitchen & Garden, and it’s now-serving home-style food and great coffee from Parallel Roasters.
“We’re all very much embedded in West End,” Goding says. “We live locally, worked in different cafes around the area and we’ve got kids at West End State School. So when my husband mentioned that Fiona [Stager, Avid Reader co-owner] was looking for people to take over the cafe, we couldn’t not get involved.”’
The three have pinched Avid Reader’s extensive collection of cookbooks to come up with ideas, also recruiting the makers and producers that frequent nearby pop-up Wandering Cooks. “It’s wholesome, family-friendly food,” Goding says. “We’re getting the best produce we can and sourcing local makers for anything we can’t do ourselves.”
Those makers include Alphabet Cafe, delivering their trademark inventive pastries and sweets; Teneriffe’s Danny’s Bread; juices from HRVST ST; and preserves by Ugly Duck. They pay homage to their friends and families, too, with recipes for chutney and chimichurri handed down from Burton and Newham’s aunts, and a spanakopita recipe coming from Goding’s neighbour.
Interior changes are minimal but striking. Large communal tables are decked out in fresh flowers, and even more plants have been added to the courtyard. In the first week Goding says they’ve seen a lot of old customers come back excited to see the fresh face of the cafe.
“Our vision was to have somewhere that our kids could come after school, that was really relaxed and inviting for everyone,” she says. “It’s so exciting to see it happening.”