Brian and Eileen Verwey moved to Australia from Pretoria in South Africa early last year, seeking a better life for their family.
“We wanted to give our two children a safer living and school environment with access to a first-world education system. We were tired of living with burglar-proof walls, electric fencing and armed security guards at our gates,” Brian Verwey said.
“We longed for the ability to walk to the shop without fear of being attacked and hijacked.”
The family now calls Newcastle home and are fast making friends as the new owners of Frankies on Darby, (previously known as Frankies Place) at 133 Darby Street, Cooks Hill. They spent six weeks renovating the cafe. It opened on October 9 and is a casual, welcoming haven on an otherwise busy street.
“It has always been our dream to own and run our own cafe. We wanted to create a space where you can unwind and meet with a friend. A place you can chat for hours and feel comfortable,” Verwey, who previously owned businesses in South Africa, said. Existing Frankies Place staff were invited to stay on, including head chef Adrian Maughan.
“Adrian believes in fresh ingredients and is not afraid to experiment with new flavours. We get along well as he shares my adventurous approach to cafe food and traditional Australian cuisine,” Verwey said.
“We are the home of Newcastle’s best all-day breakfast. Put it this way – we love serving eggs benedict at 2.30 in the afternoon. We have an equally impressive lunch menu and 50 per cent of our menu offers vegetarian options.”
Verwey sources fruit and vegetables from local markets every week. As for meat, he walks 100 metres up the road to Darby Street Meats: “We keep it close and build relationships; that is how we have always done business.”
He said he was “amazed” at the number of South Africans living in Newcastle who had visited the cafe to date. A South African menu is offered once a quarter at the cafe, with lots of meat, potato salad, vetkoek and melktert. The everyday menu, though, is contemporary Australian and Frankies has just launched a platter and catering menu to complement their party and function offering.
“As a newbie on Darby Street we were welcomed with open arms. The standard on the street is very high, which keeps us on our toes and is good for customers.”
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