Bolton Street Pantry in Newcastle has a new owner.
Five years ago Zach Levien transformed an empty concrete space into a industrial-themed but warm and welcoming cafe popular with locals.
His last shift will be this Friday, July 31. Stop by if you can. He'll be there until about 2.30pm.
"The past five years have been challenging however also very rewarding," Levien said.
"There have been many changes in the industry and our city. Despite this (and COVID) the business is strong and in a good position to keep moving forward. My goal was to establish a little cafe with a strong brand and then move on. It's time.
"I am proud of what I leave, thankful for the people I met and excited for what comes next."
Read more:Bolton Street Pantry an East End gem
New owner John Casey grew up in Newcastle, lived in Sydney for five years and moved back to his home town last year.
"I have been in the specialty coffee industry for over five years now and have gained some great experience from some wonderful cafes in Sydney," he told Food & Wine.
"I moved back to Newcastle with the desire to open my own shop, and be at the forefront of the cafe scene here. I love going out for coffee and have had some wonderful memories exploring new cafes with friends.
"Cafes are more than a coffee shop to me. They are places where people can relax and enjoy a great meal, but I also want to create a space where people can feel inspired to dream and create."
Casey wants to open a "specialty cafe, focusing on quality coffee and quality produce in a vibrant and creative space".
"Zach has done a wonderful job at Bolton Street Pantry and I am pleased with the cafe I am taking on," he continued.
"I will Initially keep the same menu and work with my head chef to keep it fresh and seasonal, supporting local farmers and producers. I will however change the coffee supplier to Single O, for all our milk-based coffees. Single O is a coffee roaster from Surry Hills who is at the forefront of specialty coffee in Australia.
"We will also introduce filter coffee and single origin coffee for our black coffees and showcase some of the amazing local roasters.
"As the name of the business suggests, I will look to expand our retail range and sell our very own in-house supply of food products as well as potentially partnering with local producers to sell local produce and quality food supplies.
"This is just the beginning, and I would love the cafe to be a little piece of joy for the community in this challenging year. Cafes are about community and supporting each other. I would love the support from the community as I start out, and am excited to give back to my staff, my suppliers, local producers and the local community."
Opening day record
The opening of the new Guzman y Gomez drive-through restaurant at Warners Bay last Thursday broke records for the successful franchise. Steven Marks, founder and CEO of Guzman y Gomez, had this to say to Food & Wine: "The response from locals has been phenomenal. On opening day we saw a line two-kilometres long of cars waiting to test out our new drive-through and grab $5 burritos and bowls. We moved fast, serving up more than 4000 fresh hot burritos and bowls to our guests throughout the day. We're proud to report that GYG Warners Bay actually broke our all-time record for the biggest opening day ever in the history of GYG. Warners Bay also took top place for the number of $3 tacos sold over the weekend. From Friday onwards, and despite the weekend rain, GYG Warners Bay was in the top one or two best performing restaurants nationally for GYG and we don't see that easing off any time soon."
Wings and steins
Today (July 29) is National Wing Day at The Bavarian Charlestown. Purchase a stein of beer and you can grab 10-cent classic buffalo wings (maximum of 20 wings per drink purchase). For this day only, The Bavarian will be open for lunch from noon. Once the wing-a-thon is over, it's back to the usual 4pm opening time. Bookings at rockpooldininggroup.com.au.
Paymasters have added an all-day breakfast option to their menu, Wednesday to Sunday, 11.30am to 2pm. The historic Newcastle restaurant will no longer be serving weekend breakfast however has expanded its takeaway menu, with more cooked-to-order and reheat-at-home options.
Fine dining at home
The Deck Cafe at Lovedale is bringing back Degustation to your Door for one night only, for a good cause. Matt Dillow from The Deck Cafe and Fernando Antao from Sabor Dessert Bar are putting together a five-course, home-delivered degustation menu that you can put together at home on Saturday, August 8, with help from the chefs via a live stream. The price is $95 per person and $30 of this goes directly to Hunter Medical Research Institute, who missed out on its annual fundraising ball due to COVID-19. More details at deckcafelovedale.com.au.
Movers and shakers
Jack Symonds has been promoted from sous chef to head chef at Scotties, Newcastle East, with former head chef Joel Humphreys now chef de cuisine (executive chef).
Freebie of the week
Plants Taste Better is a plant-based recipe book that shows you what you can accomplish when you combine vegetables with a deeper understanding of the techniques required to make the ingredients shine. The book shares 70 recipes that take vegetable cooking to a new level by highlighting specific techniques. All are explained in an accessible way, with recipes designed for home cooking alongside ones especially adapted from author Richard Buckley's award-winning kitchen. Plants Taste Better is out now through Murdoch Books, RRP $49.99. Food & Wine has a copy to give away. To enter, send the words "Plants Taste Better" with your name, address and number to firstname.lastname@example.org. Entries close on Monday at 9am.
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