The Keys. The making of a Melbourne café.
Filter Now Open 555 Collins St
Episode 7

The Cafe Opens

Filter's doors are now well and truly open to the public and the response from coffee and smørrebrød fans alike has been really positive. This is the culmination of 10 months of hard work, passion and support from our mentors and for Andrew Kelly it's an incredible achievement.

Take a look at how the opening played out as Andrew reflects on the journey so far and the journey ahead, with many exciting things still to come for Filter.

Andrew Kelly Journal Entry

The opening by Andrew Kelly

And, we’re open! Hooray, hooray!

It’s been a pretty typical scenario with café builds in that we’ve been saying we’re “about two weeks away” from opening for at least 2.5 months. Now the time has finally come, approximately 6 months after the beginning. And it feels okay

Okay, blow the modesty: it feels great. The space is lovely, the surfaces are just what we wanted, the coffees taste great.. all should be fine.

The project has been a tremendous amount of work, and there are sooo many details it’s incredible, we’ve quizzed ourselves a lot, and testing lots of ideas, now finally is the opportunity to test how well it all works.

While there is still a slight sense of exhaustion from the last few month’s worth of heightened effort, this is all forgotten remarkably quickly with the need to put on the operational game face. Now is the time to switch from having to be savvy to the requirements of trades, landlords, and creative agencies, and once again turning attention to hospitality: how are the customers negotiating the space and the communication side of things? Are the prices and sizes of coffee and food about right? Does our offering suit the demographic of the area geographically? Does our POS, staffing and the space itself function as intended, allowing the type of service we’re raring to give? Are all the coffees purchased performing in their own right, and as components of a composed coffee menu, as intended? Just how much smorrebrod can I justify eating in the name of testing and tweaking?

By the time one opens, it’s become hard to imagine that the tide of outgoings financially will ever cease. Enthusiastic customer response is the panacea here. And ourselves having confidence in and enjoying what we’re doing is key too. You have to remind yourself that a horde of supporters in twitterland doesn’t guarantee sufficient daily custom: that takes time and patience to build.

Of course people should realise we have delicious and lovely things and flock to us amazingly, but people are complicated, and habit-ingrained. The whole process needs time.

And that’s pretty much the theme here… The physical building may have ceased, but the metaphysical build – building loyalty and routine and understanding in the minds of potential customers - is just beginning.