Surf Street Café

To most people their local café is like a second home, a place to hang and check out live music, exhibitions as well as the essential coffee hit. This month we talk with Surf Street Cafe’s Sam Allinson about the highs and lows of running his own digs…

Tell us how you ended up in Emerald Beach?
SA: I’ve been a chef on the Coffs Coast for the past 10 years, working at a range of restaurants and cafés. I started working at Surf Street and fell in love with the area and the café so much I ended up buying the business a year later. Emerald Beach is our little slice of heaven, the community is very supportive and it’s been a great decision to setup camp here.

What’s the best and worst thing about running your own café?
SA: Being a business owner has it’s ups and downs and it can be very demanding with the nurturing and attention a growing business needs; but I find it very rewarding and it’s always worth it. I get to come to work for myself and I have an amazing crew who go above and beyond to help the café grow and evolve, especially in these uncertain times. A personal highlight for me is when I see a bunch of locals enjoying a night out, with some great food and drink, live music and a great vibe.

You’re a big supporter of local music, how important is bringing gigs back during this time of much crapiness?
SA: When covid hit, I knew there was going to be a real shake up for most businesses and I prepped for the worst, immediately coming up with a safe and functional plan to get through the tough times. Lots of business owners would have been doing the same. One industry that copped it hard was the local music industry. I love listening to live music and have great relationships with a lot of local musicians and I knew as soon as I could relaunch the café, I was going to get these guys some work! All the musos that play at the café have shown an amazing amount of support and the best thing about it is that the customers love it too. Music to me is one of life’s greatest joys and I’m privileged enough to help support the local music industry while also pleasing the diners at my café.

What advice do you have for anyone thinking of starting their own cafe?
SA: Anyone considering following their ambitions in any industry should never let fear or uncertainty hold them back. I think every moment in life is an opportunity that we should learn, live, experience and embrace. If your reading this wondering if you can do it, get out there and have a go at it.

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