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HomeNewsSad day as Big Happy Cafe sits empty

Sad day as Big Happy Cafe sits empty

There’s a wonderful update to this story here!

Exciting and momentous energy was soon transformed into sadness and depletion after almost no one turned up to the pop up Big Happy Cafe last week just off Manly’s Corso.

“It was a very sad cafe last week,” said Julie Ross-Edwards, the community director of Head High.

“These guys have worked on it for about four to five months to be able to open the cafe.

“So you can imagine how we all felt last week where we literally had to steer people off the street to come and be our customers offering free coffee, which we actually can’t afford to do.”

But Head High isn’t just a name, the hosts have already propped their chins up ready for try again at St Matthew’s Church courtyard this Wednesday from 11am to 1.30pm.

Members of the service have worked together for months conducting market research and curating food and entertainment in preparation for the cafe’s debut.

“The group is made up of six young adults… they are doing everything as far as possible,” Julie said.

“The choice of the menu was the groups, the designing of the grazing platter…we will occasionally do speeches, there’s been some impromptu dancing and a bit of singing with the musicians.

“Just lots of skills to be learned because it’s not easy to run a cafe, so learning that workplace is really important.”

The Head Highers conducting market research

The cafe lends itself to be a crucial stepping stone in helping Head Highers receive future employment by putting their skills on display.

Each member has their own unique set of skills that has been reflected within the service and preparation of the coffee store.

JP is one of the workers at the Head High group – and a very confident one at that – offering unconditional service with a smile and a side of musical entertainment.

“I talk to the people like boys and girls and like very young kids and teenagers as well, I see them come in smiling and I smile back at them.. I look around and I see happiness. It’s, beautiful. I can’t wait to see that smile,” JP said.

“I did ballroom dancing in California with my family… I’m a dancer as well.”

Joon, another worker at the cafe wastes no time setting a happy atmosphere greeting customers as he waits on them.

“I’m good at waitering… I always say good morning to people and customers and ask them how they are doing.”

Head High members JP (Left) Joon (Right)

The brains behind the grazing platters, Stella,  has spent weeks assuring the snacks and beverages on offer are top-notch.

“I’ve been working there for about three weeks, making my grazing platters and hot chocolates.

“It’s a very good, happy experience like how our cafe is called… If we got more people come in I’d be a bit nervous but pretty excited because of more orders,” Stellar explained.

The Head High Service operates in Mosman and collaborates with several businesses in Manly, and increasingly so the last few months. Manly businesses have embraced the program’s professional skill share initiative which places members in a working environment for 40 minutes to teach them crucial skills and rapport.

“The professional skills share initiative that we’ve got now got has about six or seven businesses in Manly that have taken part, including Zali Steggall’s office, Chocobowl, Manly Surfboards, and Manly Co-op,” Julie said.

The idea to run a cafe first came about after a community collaboration with Head High involving a pop-up shop went successfully.

After that, the service approached St Matthew’s Church who agreed to allow them to use their kitchen and outdoor venue space.

The Big Happy Cafe is not only geared towards servicing the community but its primary goal is to service its employees, providing them with opportunities to boost their confidence and broaden their skill set for future gainful employment.

“This is quite a unique opportunity for them… the idea behind it is not just the hospitality and the work skills, but the confidence building, better communication skills with unfamiliar people. We love to meet as many professionals and business people as possible, so that hopefully, people will see my clients and think, ah, that person would be a great fit for us.

“But I won’t be able to offer this opportunity to this wonderful group of young adults if we don’t get the customers,” Julie said.

“But I won’t be able to offer this opportunity to this wonderful group of young adults if we don’t get the customers,” Julie said.

The workers at the cafe taken to the initiative with enthusiasm, and some already have big goals for what their future careers could entail.

JP has strong aspirations of becoming an actor, he already has a spot on an SBS documentary, but he is looking to develop those skill sets for future employment.

“I love it for my acting skills, I love to do more learning for my acting career.”

JP showing off his ballroom dancing skills

Stella is achieving some of the best hands-on experience she can get as she sees possible hospitality or retail employment in her future.

“Working in a cafe was one of the options, but also daycare or retail, but yeah I really need experience, so I really like the cafe for that.”

The cafe is open Wednesdays at 1 Darley Road, Manly in the courtyard of St Matthews Church from 11.00 am – 1.30 pm.

If you’re around, come grab some lunch and a coffee, you won’t just be treating yourself but you’ll also be helping these ambitious young adults pave themselves a future.

“It was a sad, sad day last week, and we really hope that won’t happen again and the community will get behind us.

“By coming to the cafe, not only will you get a joyous experience, you get to know some wonderful young adults and you’re truly making an impact on that young person’s development and confidence,” Julie said.