At 22 Dylan Breen just opened his first cafe. Mr Wednesday (an old nickname of Breen’s) is in the back streets of Fairfield near the Alphington Paper Mills development site.
Such are the fruits of leaving school at 16 to work as a carpenter by day and a waiter by night. In fact, Breen still works Fridays and Saturdays at Pizza Mi in nearby Ivanhoe. But if his crazy work ethic provided the funds, it was travel that sparked the idea.
“Me and my family ride vintage motorbikes,” Breen says. “A lot of the time you’ll see a 1941 Indian out front which I ride to work.” When his family took a month off to ride their bikes around the States, Breen continued on for another 11.
“Over the year I saw heaps of places and ideas and just morphed it all into the one cafe,” he says. He even had the benefit of a test run at Palmers Green, London, where he helped build and launch a mate’s cafe.
At Mr Wednesday, chef Erica Nelson (most recently of Fitzroy’s Industry Beans) achieves a whole lot in what is little more than a galley kitchen. From easy stuff (granola, fruit toast and porridge,) she steps up to three types of burgers, plantain chips, a colourful veggie bowl and potato cakes in lemonade batter. Nelson’s old workplace also supplies the beans, in the form of two blends and two rotating single origins.
The seating area’s not much bigger, though a dark mirror gives the clever illusion of space without the burden of gazing upon your early-morning self. Add in dark timbers, raw steel girders and ferns bursting from the roofline, and you have a pretty package that feels contemporary but not derivative.
And the 1924 Scout motorbike bolted to the wall? “I was riding it a few days before we opened and it broke down,” Breen says. “I had to push it all the way home. I thought, ‘She’s on her last legs’. Dad and I drained the oil and chucked her up on the wall so everyone else can get some enjoyment out of her.”
144 Wingrove Street, Fairfield
0432 154 276
Mon to Fri 6.30am–4.30pm
Sat to Sun 7.30am–4pm