We’ve been tracking Andrew Kelly of Auction Rooms as he works towards opening a new venue in the CBD, Filter. Along with his own extensive hospitality experience and passion for specialty coffee, Kelly has made the most of advice from industry mentors to develop and execute Filter. In the lead up to opening day in the first week of May, we reflect on the journey Kelly and the team have undertaken to make it this far.

The call-out
In August of 2013, Broadsheet announced the launch of The Keys – a project developed with Bank of Melbourne to get behind the cafe industry in Melbourne and give an experienced operator the chance to take his/her next step. We put the call out to Broadsheet readers for nominations, which were then whittled down from thousands to a shortlist of three.

Episode one – the shortlist
To help us select the recipient of The Keys, we call in a team of industry mentors: Chris Lucas (Chin Chin, Baby), Nathan Toleman (Top Paddock, Two Birds One Stone), Kate Bartholomew (Tonka, Coda) and Bank of Melbourne’s Vanessa Hastie. The first episode of The Keys, introduces these mentors and the three candidates: Stephanie Manolas and John Vroom of Ora in Kew, Kris Wood of Clement and Tom Thumb, and Andrew Kelly of Auction Rooms and Small Batch.

Episode two – and the winner is …
The mentors discuss the merits of each application. Though all three of the new concepts have legs, the panel settles on Andrew Kelly as the operator with the clearest vision and the readiness to take the next step. “I absolutely cannot wait to get started,” says an excited Kelly. “We’ve got a team of people here champing at the bit to get the next project off the ground.”

Episode three – making it happen
Before he takes the plunge with his new venue, Andrew Kelly sits down with Bank of Melbourne’s Vanessa Hastie to discuss ideas for managing cash flow in the initial stages of the business. They also cover options for handling his accounts in the future. It’s an important next step for Kelly, and an informative episode for anyone running their own business or working towards taking the next step themselves.

Episode four – smooth operations
After a quick and daunting walk through the site of his new venue, Kelly visits Nathan Toleman at Top Paddock to talk operations and supply. Toleman’s expertise in running an ultra-busy cafe provides helpful hints for Kelly to consider when planning how his venue will work. “You’re never going to get it right straight away,” says Toleman. “The most important thing is to get the people and systems you need in place around you.”

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Episode five – the message
For the fifth episode of The Keys, Kelly visits Chris Lucas at Chin Chin to talk branding and communication. “The sooner you get the message out, the better,” says Lucas. “You’d be surprised how many people want to tune in.” Two months after their initial meeting, the pair meets again at The Hungry Workshop design and letterpress studio in Northcote, where Kelly unveils the name along with the visual identity for Filter.

Episode six – imagining a new space
Alongside branding, Kelly has been developing a physical concept for how Filter will work as a space. It’s a different approach to the cafe environment we’re used to in Melbourne, with a focus on take-away filter coffee. In this episode, Kelly shows Kate Bartholomew through the site, then visits DesignOffice in Collingwood to go through the plans and models for Filter with interior designer Mark Simpson.

Filter is set to open in the first week of May. Check out bankofmelbourne.com.au/thekeys for more small business operations and supply advice.