CAFE Bon OZ staff know many of their regular customers’ names, but have even more of their orders committed to memory.
Margaret, who sends ripples of panic through the cafe if she hasn’t arrived by 8am, loves the cinnamon toast and a skim cappuccino.
The couple who visit daily order fish and chips with chardonnay, plus wedges and a cappuccino in a mug.
The two blokes who catch up on Tuesdays opt for a Caesar burger with no chips and extra salad, plus a veggie breakfast with wholemeal toast and butter on the side.
Owner Guy Ashford said he believed it was these customer relationships that had helped the cafe survive for 30 years on Westfield Kotara’s mezzanine.
“Many see us as an institution, a second home,” he said.
“We’ve seen customers as babies now bringing their own babies in.”
Staff recalled a mother who treats her daughter every birthday, a group of women who have lunched almost every Friday for the past three decades and some who have lost their dining partner, but continue to sit at the same table.
The cafe opened in what was then a redeveloped Garden City in 1988, breaking barriers by installing a commercial kitchen, offering table service and applying for a liquor licence.
It will close on Sunday due to changes related to the centre’s redevelopment.
It will offer regulars complimentary sparking wine with any meal purchased as a final farewell.
Mr Ashford said he believed Cafe Bon OZ was the oldest continuously-operating independent eatery in the centre – and perhaps across the city.
“It’s been a great journey and will be hard for everyone to move on, but it’s time for a change,” he said.
“The response has been overwhelming and it will be missed here.
“Newcastle people are very loyal and you have people that always shop in this centre and have got their routine.
“They have morning tea, shop and come back for lunch.”
The cafe will move many of its popular dishes – including its prawn mornay melt and apple sour cake – as well as some of its 30 staff to Mr Ashford’s other cafes in the centre: Gather, Lotus Express and Espresso Jet.
Chef Daniel Lawrence will take the helm at Gather.
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