Though many Melbourne cafes aim for an industrial vibe, very few actually have factories as neighbours.
“It used to be a carpet and flooring showroom,” co-owner of Mordialloc’s Hendriks Cafe, Lee Eman, explains with a laugh. Driving past one day he and his partner Chloe Dam noticed the space up for lease and thought, why not?
Eman had been in the hospitality game for nearly a decade, most recently as head barista at The Merchant's Guild. All this time he'd been filling notebooks with plans for his own cafe.
“The space already had the exposed ceiling and all the big, open windows overlooking the golf course. We kind of just fell for it,” he says.
Over the course of a year, the pair transformed the space, bringing to life many of Eman's notebook sketches. All the Melbourne cafe hallmarks are here – light wood, brass fittings, Prana Chai and Mörk Hot Chocolate. But nothing about Hendriks is contrived.
The steel for every handmade table is from a factory around the corner, the coffee is Five Senses’ Tightrope blend, straight from the roastery 10 minutes away in Cheltenham. It is one of those rare cafes – a true local.
“Mordialloc definitely needed something like this,” says chef Adam Owens (Miss Jackson, Axil Coffee Roasters). “A lot of younger couples are moving [to the area] but there's nothing down here to accommodate them.”
Joining Owens in the kitchen is sous chef Tom Crosswell, fresh from a stint at MONA. Before you ask – yes, he's met David Walsh and yes, the millionaire gallery owner lives up to his infamous reputation. Croswell says a suburban cafe like Hendriks is a reflection of how discerning Melbourne diners have become.
The menu is breakfast focused, with some smart twists on the favourites. The Indo Fritters – a nod to Eman’s Indonesian heritage – is the most popular dish: crisp corn fritters served with a son-in-law egg, swimming in chili caramel. There’s a refreshing take on the ubiquitous smashed avo, brightened with house-made ricotta and sprouted seeds.
Come lunch, your choice is pretty simple – crispy buttermilk chicken, barbeque pulled pork or southern shrimp served up in a po’boy with slaw and chipotle aioli.
Dam and Eman have bigger plans for Hendriks. They are keen to open for dinner and are still tossing up what to do with the other half of the building – coffee roastery, an extra kitchen or a suburban dairy are all in the mix.
“Work Hard and Stay Humble!” a mural painted by Dam’s mum instructs from the cafe’s whitewashed wall. It's a mantra the whole Hendriks team has clearly taken to heart.
105–107 White Street, Mordialloc
(03) 9021 8980