A revised menu has become the core of a redevelopment campaign for Parramatta café Mr Cuppa.

Business owners Shannon and Emily Chin established the Macquarie Street café during 2021. They were both passionate about coffee and wanted to bring something to the market that had their individual imprint on it. Along with many local business owners they were hard hit by lockdown periods. Just a week after opening they had to close down due to the pandemic. They spent their time instead taking the food they had already purchased and donating it to the homeless.

Now they have opportunities to revitalise trade, the proprietors have been consulting Realise Business to streamline operations, menus, marketing and signage.

The owners reflect, “From October last year with Covid spreading and railway construction happening in the area it was a struggle for a business like us to cope – till today. We have been working closely with the team at Realise Business and it has been amazing working with such wonderful people.”

A business in a business

Mr Cuppa is a business within a business, situated within the Fitness First Gym. This provides some great advantages, including the foot traffic from gymgoers. However, as the cafe is also located under Fitness First, it needs to work hard to draw in unfamiliar customers, flag its own identity and establish a following.

Realise Business adviser Tim outlines the situation, “The advice Shannon and Emily were seeking was marketing support to increase awareness of and traffic to their café. It’s a competitive area and also directly underneath Fitness First, which was causing some confusion.”

The business owners were keen to grow and understood that the menu is really key for making the café’s identity more memorable

Restructuring the menu

During the first phase of the Realise Business consultation, Tim conducted a review of the menu and operations to highlight where improvements could yield results. The owners were able to “play to their strengths,” Tim notes, with both proprietors having extensive experience in both front and back-of-house operations. Their primary task was to redevelop the menu.

Together with Tim the owners assessed POS exports and reports, which made it clear which menu items were successful and which were not. In order to stabilise costs, these results were modified by factoring in the seasonality of ingredients utilised in menu items. Then they could compose a new menu.

Tim’s review found that there were actually too many food and beverage options, so the team worked towards a reduced and strong core menu. The owners of the café really cared about having a menu that was easy to keep fresh, consistent and fast to ensure the retention of their loyal local customer base.

One aspect of an effective menu that is often overlooked is the wording. While it may seem like window dressing, the menu’s language can be quite influential. If poor wording confuses customers they might make the wrong choices, order quite slowly or feel negative about their ordering experience. If the language is too flowery and obscure they might subconsciously order less or simply not return to the cafe.

The owners of Mr Cuppa wanted wording that reflected the café’s authentic vibe. Their new menu was composed using language that was basic yet effective and suitable for a café operation.

The cafe’s new menu showcases Shannon’s first-class coffee skills and Emily’s advanced skills in bakery and tasty cafe dishes, including the Mr Cuppa Breakfast Burger with Bacon, egg, hash-brown, cheese and a homemade tomato relish. They will continue to develop new more customer-friendly menus with a focus on items to deliver profit without wastage.

Shannon and Emily have been pleased with the process, saying, “Tim has been working closely with us by restructuring our menu, fixing up a lot of things on the menu and guiding us through costing.”

Marketing for greater visibility

Shannon already had experience marketing the business and setting up social media pages but he wanted Realise Business to help with a marketing strategy and tactics to drive awareness. Adviser Sue Walsh recommended a focus on the branding to deliver a consistent look and feel across all platforms and collateral.

The team worked with Sue to update the menu and bring in a new logo and colour scheme. They will also develop leaflets. As stand-out signage is critical in their ‘hidden’ location they developed an outdoor banner that will create more street appeal and encourage passing trade to come into Mr Cuppa for their coffee, pastry or snack.

Sue helped the owners develop a new website which will support Mr Cuppa with SEO and improve their Google ranking. Their Google my business updates have created a large amount of views with over 120 in just a few weeks. The business has also been added to at parramatta and Yelp.

An ongoing social media strategy will foster more regular posting and interaction with the target audience. As Emily is a very talented pastry cook, they will also work towards a long-term goal of adding the business to the Australian Good Food Guide.

The owners are appreciative of the work on their marketing and the knowledge imparted, saying, “Sue has been helping us with the website and trying to expose our cafe as it’s a bit tucked away. We are truly amazed and grateful.”

Ready to meet new opportunities

Emily and Shannon have always wanted to start a cafe where they could show off more of the things they enjoy. They love being a part of their local community and genuinely want to make people happy with great food and great service.

The café is now geared up to receive more customers with a stronger, more profitable menu, better signage and more effective online presence. The owners have plans in place to meet new opportunities, such as a pie/sausage roll warmer for when building works commence nearby – bringing in hungry site workers and a new chance to increase trade and build loyalty.

Shannon and Emily report: “As new cafe owners, we started off doing what we thought we knew, but with the help of Tim and the crew they have driven and helped us improve in a lot of things, from costing to revising the menu, banners, social media, website, logo and so forth. We are truly blessed with such help.”

Special offer

Mr Cuppa is welcoming readers with a Free Chai Tea offer. The delicious chai tea comes with any purchase over $10. This special offer for café customers ends 1st October 2022.