Happy International Women's Day, from the Allie's family! This year, we decided to put the spotlight on some of the inspiring female founders we've encountered leaving their mark on Sydney's hospitality scene. We got together with the owners of Devon Cafe & Dopa, Quick Brown Fox, Pull'n Shots and The Wolf & Honeybee to talk entrepreneurship, advice and the unique challenges they've faced in their businesses.
Alyse Amata | Founder, Pull'n Shots
Alyse Amata is the owner of Pull'n Shots, one of Sydney's top coffee cart and mobile bar catering services, specialising in providing bespoke coffee, gelato, and food catering for events and celebrations of all sizes.
Can you tell us about your journey in starting Pull'n Shots and what inspired you to pursue mobile coffee, beverage and food catering?
Both my partner and I have always had a passion for hospitality. We started Pull'n Shots 13 years ago as a Drive-Thru coffee shop service. Over the years many of our customers fell in love with our coffee and service which led to endless enquiries for private catering and special events. Finally we committed to a clients wedding in the Hunter Valley and it was on this particular night that we decided to take on another approach to our business and Pull'n Shots Events was born. Many years on and we now offer gelato carts, coffee carts, juice carts, food carts and even popcorn.
What has been the highlight of your journey so far with Pull'n Shots?
Every day we have the joys of seeing something new or going to a new location. From the Opera House steps, to the top of buildings being lifted by cranes, Facebook offices and on the airport tarmac. Every day is new and exciting and certainly makes every day an exciting journey.
You specialise in catering everything from major events to intimate celebrations. Is there a particularly memorable event or client you've worked with, and what made that experience stand out?
There have been so many to date. I know the girls on our team especially loved making coffee for Chris Hemsworth at a Destination NSW event. As a whole our two favourite events of the year are The Art Fair and The Cherry Blossom festival, we have been working with these events for many years.
What is your go-to gelato order?
Pistachio or Cremino Dark from Riverino.
Do you have any exciting new projects or services in the works?
We are in the process of setting up a coffee training academy in our new warehouse.
Pull'n Shots is one of Sydney’s most in-demand coffee cart and mobile bar caterers. With such a busy schedule, is there anything you do to avoid burnout and stay motivated?
We have an amazing team who help us a lot with events, managing two kids and a business is a daily juggle. We try to keep 1 weekend a month to spend time with our kids.
What's your favourite Allie's juice?
Emily Calabro | Founder, Quick Brown Fox
Emily Calabro is the co-owner of Quick Brown Fox, an innovative cafe set in a beautiful 1840s-built stone cottage in Pyrmont, dishing up classic cafe fare with a creative twist.
Who are the brains behind Quick Brown Fox Eatery?
My business partner who is also my older brother, Ben and myself. He is definitely more on the creative side. I manage the day to day operations and running of the venue. It's awesome we work well together and are like ying and yang.
Can you tell us about the early days of Quick Brown Fox and how it came to be?
We actually stumbled across this little gem. We saw the potential that it had and it definitely far surpassed any expectations. It has been forever evolving and an awesome journey.
Your menu is known for its focus on fresh, seasonal produce. Can you tell us about the sourcing process?
We like to push the boundaries in the cafe scene. We work very closely with our head chef, sous chef and suppliers when creating menus. We see what's in season and on trend in the hospitality industry. When sourcing produce it's not just the creative side that comes into play. We must ensure the items are sustainable and provide the business with longevity.
What are some of the challenges you've faced since opening?
Definitely the C word which I can't stand now..Covid. We had only been open a few months. It was definitely hard to say the least. We tried to pivot where we could to ensure there was some revenue coming in to keep staff employed. These few years really made us delve deeper into the business side of things to ensure the longevity of our business. As tough as it was, I am grateful for the lessons along the way as we have grown immensely as operators and are just blessed to be operating today.
What's your favourite dish from your menu?
By far the Congee, if you haven't tried it, you must!
What's your favourite Allie's juice?
That's a tough one as I love them all but I'd have to say the Daily Greens. It's super refreshing, healthy and an even amount of all ingredients.. it's just perfect!
Leigh Holman | Founder, The Wolf & Honeybee
The Wolf and Honeybee, owned by Leigh Holman, is a cherished cafe in Newtown that serves delicious food and coffee and provides a welcoming atmosphere that feels like a home away from home for locals.
What inspired you to start Wolf and Honeybee, and how did you come up with the concept for the cafe?
The Wolf and Honeybee has such a welcoming and cozy atmosphere. Was this intentional, and did you always envision creating a space that feels like home for your customers?
The Wolf and Honeybee features a variety of products from small, local businesses. Can you tell us more about your approach to sourcing and supporting these businesses and why this is important to you?
Noni Widjaja | Founder, Devon Cafe & Dopa Cafes
Devon Cafe, owned by Noni Widjaja, is a trendy hotspot in Sydney's Barangaroo. Dopa by Devon are their sister restaurants - known for their fast, fun & fresh Japanese-inspired food.
What motivated you to first open Devon Cafe, and how did you go about turning that initial vision into a reality?
My partner and I love to go out and eat. So after years of trying different dishes and places, we came up with the idea of combining a fine dining experience but in a cafe environment. You have to dress up to go to a restaurant and it isn't cheap so we had a vision for a place where the food is elevated but you can dress casually and enjoy it without the price tag.
How did you come up with the playful and creative approach to brunch staples and fusion cuisine that your customers love?
We came up with the concept and then some time later we met with our now Executive Chef. It evolved into a business partnership by accident - we'd been friends for awhile and he was living in Melbourne. We decided to approach him about opening up something in Sydney and he liked it a lot. He came back to us with the menu and it was exactly what we had in mind - limited but high in quality and unique items.
We have always been a cafe that likes to challenge people's comfort zone with food. We were the first cafe in Sydney to really showcase truffle as an ingredient on a breakfast menu. We caused quite a lot of interest once for creating a truffle-infused ice-cream which got a lot of press. I loved seeing that.
What has been your biggest win since first opening Devon Cafe?
Back in 2014, we won a Good Food Award from Sydney Morning Herald and the next morning we had queues going down the street. It would take up to 1 hour to get a seat. That was a real highlight for me.
What's your favourite Allie's juice?