Chloe Donnelly took over The Penny Royal cafe in Mosman 18 months ago. But buying a local institution with a cult following was no easy feat. “It was the hardest thing I have ever done. I had to learn from scratch while keeping the customers happy.”
Donnelly can be found, rain, hail or shine, behind the gleaming coffee machine, calling out to her customers, many of whom she knows on a first-name basis. While Donnelly never imagined buying someone else's cafe, the community feel and regular clientele was a real drawcard for her. “You’re waking people up every day, so you build a relationship with them. It’s like one big happy family.” A smattering of recycled timber tables, highly coveted during peak times, spill out into the lane way. Though the narrow space is small, marked by its unique pastel graffiti interior, the service is always heaving. Donnelly estimates Penny Royal serves a staggering 540 coffees a day.
Donnelly has stayed loyal to the Campos coffee roast that was already a hit with regulars, “But I really wanted to push the boundaries of what can be served at a kitchen-less cafe,” she says. Donnelly insists on a seasonal menu and as winter descended she has invested in a slow cooker and rotates the menu daily. “Today is honey balsamic pork with red cabbage and yesterday was barbecue beef brisket,” served on a sourdough roll or with salad.
Through the menu, Donnelly has made The Penny Royal her own. “The food is fresh, clean and homemade, we’ve got the gym right there. My mum has worked in the fitness industry since before I was born, so I was raised on good food.” While healthy dishes such as the protein bowl are a post-gym mainstay, and dietary friendly dishes are abundant (she makes her own grain-free, gluten free, ‘paleo’ loaf), those in search of wholesome yet delicious fare won’t be disappointed. So much so, it’s worth waiting for a table.
The Penny Royal
2/563 Military Road
Mon to Fri 6am–3.30pm