The blueprint for Local & Aesthetic started years ago. Partners, musicians and hospitality professionals Liam Young and Dominique Rae wanted to open a WA-centric shop stocking local art and products. As the concept developed, it became clear they needed more space and people to bring it to life, so they recruited friends and fellow musos Mitch Strickland (head chef) and Caitie MacDonald (head barista).
The result – a community-focused cafe, retail space and gallery – opened on Beaufort Street at the end of January. It takes over the space left behind by eclectic antique and mirror gallery Scurr’s, which was the tenant for around 20 years.
The cafe, at the front of the venue, is light-filled, spacious and welcoming. Between the timber tables inside and the dog-friendly deck, there’s plenty of room. Young’s intention is for customers to stay; he’s adamant that Local & Aesthetic is not a takeaway venue. “I want to bring people in to sit and look and buy,” he says.
The menu is made up of nostalgic Aussie favourites with a modern spin. There’s a hefty damper roll filled with bacon and a parmesan omelette; Vegemite and cheddar on toast; and a take on the polony-and-sauce sanga (that’s fritz or devon, for those outside WA) with layers of mortadella and house-made bush chutney on white bread. Native ingredients such as lemon myrtle (in Bircher muesli) and saltbush (on roast pumpkin) also appear.
On the counter there’s a small selection of pastries from Mary Street Bakery, which also supplies the sourdough (used for the sandwiches and crumbs for a chicken schnitzel). Bacon and salmon come from Manjimup’s Holy Smoke, and native ingredients are supplied by Freshcorp Farms. To drink, there’s coffee by Wangara-based roaster Kaltiva, cold-pressed juices from Refresh and Kirks Kole Beer (a WA-only classic).
The retail and gallery area behind the cafe stocks new and second-hand vinyl from Vic Park’s Rhubarb Records. There’s strong support for local acts, including those on Rhubarb’s independent record label. “There aren’t any record stores in Maylands anymore,” says Young. “Rhubarb is an established name, and this means people don’t have to go to Vic Park or Mount Hawthorn to buy records.”
The gallery will display a rotating range of works, all for sale, by emerging and established WA artists. The first exhibition (on until March), curated by the Foundation for Indigenous Sustainable Health, features works by Bardi and Goonyandi artists (from the Kimberley); Martu artists from the Pilbara; Noongar (Wadandi) artists from south-west WA; and Guringai and Kamilaroi artists from NSW. The team plans to offer more products, artworks and collaborations in future. Young talks about commissioning a “classic Perth” mural of the Bayswater bridge with a truck stuck under it.
“We just love the state and have a lot of friends who are super creative,” he says. “Musicians bring artists, who bring writers, who bring photographers. We’re never short on creatives to help us fill the space.”