In case you hadn’t noticed, Palm Beach is blowing up on the foodie front. And it’s thanks to places like Espresso Moto with their incredible coffee, delicious treats and all-dogs-welcome vibes, as well as the exceptional wining and dining experiences of 8th Ave. Terrace that are playing a huge role in this movement.
Shannon, Nikki, Jordie and Krista combine the perfect balance of creativity, determination, passion and community support to give their two establishments a unique charm. And if you’ve seen the before photos of 8th Ave.’s original building, you’ll know exactly how hard this pack have worked to make that big ol’ balcony happen.
A move down from Cairns five years ago sparked the beginning of their first venture, Espresso Moto, and, with 8th Ave. almost a year old, there’s no questioning this dream team has big things ahead of them.
What were you doing before the Espresso Moto and 8th Ave. Terrace days?
Shannon: We all know each other from Cairns.
Nikki: I got a transfer down here, for work. I’ve been flying with Jetstar for 11 years.
Shannon: And then I followed her and we all sort of met up down here. We’ve all got a background in the hospitality industry and different areas of it too.
What motivated you to take the leap and open a cafe and next a restaurant in Palm Beach?
Krista: We noticed the Gold Coast was growing, so instead of opening something in a massive city like Sydney or Melbourne, we decided to set up somewhere that was still developing and had a comfortable lifestyle.
Nikki: We’ve always been into food, dining, drinking and being social. So I think we saw a space available for things that we would love to do and an opportunity to contribute to the community.
Shannon: We saw more hands-on small operators down this end of the Gold Coast who were doing what they love, and you could feel that at the table. The further you went south, there was more of that and less of the commercial sort of stuff.
Nikki: We definitely wanted to be somewhere community based. We wanted to be a little local place where we would know everyone’s names. In Cairns, you knew the guy at the service station, you knew the kid at woollies, everyone knew your name at the coffee shops. So looking at Palm Beach, we found such a good, strong community and that was a big thing for us—we wanted to be a part of it.
How are Espresso Moto’s philosophies similar to, or different from, 8th Ave. Terrace’s?
Jordie: I think we used Espresso Moto as a blueprint in philosophy, targeting four main things: food, service, ambiance and drinks—not necessarily in that order! To get people to come back, we needed to do those four things properly.
Krista: And service was a big part of it, because we were tired of going out to cafes and people being a bit too cool to even say hi, and it doesn’t cost anything to give someone a friendly welcome. Still today, all the kids who work with us, they say hi to everyone, they say goodbye to everyone—they acknowledge everyone.
Shannon: We were never going to sit on the cafe and say, “well that’s us.” It was always in mind to expand. And we’ve had so many long-term employees because our philosophy with our staff is to keep growing and expanding and to have them expand with us, to always learn, to always be hungry for the next step.
Nikki: We were originally thinking of a second cafe, and then this space became available. It was bigger than we ever thought, but we just took the jump and did it.
What's your secret ingredient?
Jordie: Being our biggest judges. Which can be annoying, but we critique everything that we do. Not just when we go out, but with ourselves, too. So it’s something that’s never going to stop growing.
Nikki: And there’s four of us doing it, so everything is over thought, by four [laughs].
Shannon: You might come in here and have a wine, and a meal and leave. And that experience is probably the sum of hundreds of things that we’ve agonised over and chiselled away down to those finer points.
What makes you most proud about 8th Ave. and Espresso Moto?
Shannon: The locals here have enabled us to do this and the community has really backed us. When we started Espresso Moto, there was already really good cafes here. Everyone was doing a really good job and Palm Beach was known as a place that you could come and have a consistently good product, every time. And even with other places having that reputation, the locals have supported us and enabled us to do the same thing with nighttime dining. There’s a lot of really amazing restaurants down here and bars that are opening up and they’ve all chosen Palm Beach. So that’s something that I’m proud of—that support has enabled us to make a difference to the bigger picture.
Nikki: It’s such a beautiful thing. The day we opened Espresso Moto, we got the food license and thought, “do we do it? I guess we just do it today.” So we literally just opened the doors and thought, if someone comes, they come. And the customers who came in that day, we still see them daily and they have been such an amazing support.
Who is a Gold Coast business owner you admire?
Jordie: There’s so many. The boys up at Gemelli, Gemellini and now they’ve got Sorrento. They’re doing a fantastic job and I think their philosophies are very similar to what we have. Then obviously you’ve got Simon Gloftis at Hellenika, the Justin Lane boys, Pete and Adam…
Nikki: Also Commune and Etsu. It’s so great to see the way they‘ve evolved from cafe to nighttime.
Jordie: It’s businesses like that who are making hospitality a path for kids to take as a profession, whereas before it was seen as a gateway to get through uni.
Krista: We love that on the Gold Coast, it’s so friendly within the industry. We can call the guys at Gemelli if we need something, or Justin Lane or Lester and Earle, and every body is just there to help each other out, because we’re all in it together.
Nikki: Everyone is so passionate. They open these cafes, bars and restaurants because they want it to work. It’s not like “aaah, I just wanted to open a cafe and I’ll probably sell it.” We all live it, we breathe it, it’s our lives, it’s our passion.
Jordie: And Bonita Bonita, Poke Poke, BonBon… We take our hats off to people who try new and different things.
Shannon: Basically where you catch us on Mondays and Tuesdays.
A long lost friend is in town for one day only, where do you take them and what do you get up to?
Nikki: Wake up, go for a walk to Burleigh Hill, head to Borough, go for a swim and ease on into lunch at Jimmy Wah’s, then sunset drinks and bug rolls at Rick Shores. I don’t think it’s a visit to the Gold Coast without having a drink at Elephant Rock—you’ve got to have a drink at the Surf Club. Then, of course, head to Gemellini for dinner and The Cambus Wallace for a drink.
Jordie: This is literally one of the only professions where you can eat, sleep and drink around. When you sell a car, you’re probably not coming home to another car yard to see how they’re doing it. But we’ll finish our week, go home, wake up and go to a cafe, somewhere for lunch and somewhere for dinner. And then do it all again on the Tuesday just to back it up and serve at the cafe and then come back to 8th Ave at nighttime. So you’re forever in the industry. We call it learning, some people call it alcoholism.
Tell us something interesting about yourself that nobody knows.
Nikki: I don’t know if any one knows that I like to shop and drink wine…
Krista: Not many people know that Jordie is actually really lovely [laughs].
Jordie: I worked in construction for a little while, and I could do a $20,000 job for someone and get a “cheers mate, see you later.” But now, we make $14 bacon and egg rolls and people think you’re the best man in the world. You think, “wow, I just made that guy’s day!” So I guess, something that people don’t know about me is that it’s more about the appreciation. The money factor is to the side. The appreciation of how much someone enjoys the experience is why I’m in hospitality.
Shannon: Bubbles (Krista) once tap-danced to Jarrod Harbrow playing the didgeridoo!
What’s your take on the current Gold Coast food scene?
Krista: It’s amazing! It’s growing and there are so many great options now. It’s not like “oh, we’ll just go there because it’s the only good place.”
Nikki: It’s so inspiring and you’re proud to take your friends out here.
Jordie: People of the Gold Coast are now going out for an experience, not just for the sake of it. It encourages us everyday to work towards providing that seamless package. When people walk in the door, and right up until the moment they leave, we want them to think, “they’ve got everything there.”
Shannon: And there are so many places on the Gold Coast that are nailing five out of five. I think the best part about that, is that it’s really encouraging the public to look for something better; not just settling for something out of habit, but to actually look for an experience. People no longer want to just eat food. It’s about going out and searching for an experience and then walking away thinking “wow, that was something really impressive. It wasn’t just food on a plate.” And that’s what we try to provide. It’s the whole encompassing experience. It’s not any one element, it’s everything put together.
What’s the most fun thing about running your own business, and the most challenging?
Nikki: Being able to enjoy being together in the place we created is fun! And it’s challenging to realise that you’re the boss. You think, I’ll get someone to do that and then you realise, oh, that’s me.
Shannon: Another challenging thing is patience. There’s so much out there. And we have to be patient and stick to what we’re doing. We encourage our customers to try everything; we also want them, when they leave here, feeling that we’ve done an excellent job.
Jordie: The most fun thing is sitting on the Terrace on a Sunday afternoon and watching it all unfold. And the most challenging thing is all the ins and outs that are involved in bringing a huge operation together. Some people think, “oh staff wages, that’s the killer.” But no, it’s way more than that. You’ve got to try and string together your rent, buying alcohol and food, the staff, and by the time the food comes out to the table, that’s only a little piece of what’s involved. Sometimes suppliers are out of products; you might forget to order peppercorns for the pepper grinder… There’s nothing worse than when someone orders a glass of wine and you have to tell them you’re out of that one. Little do they know, the night before, six girls came in and drank all six bottles that we had, but you can’t use that excuse. Six o’clock this morning, I got a phone call saying the dishwasher isn’t working and you have to figure those things out, too. There are challenges everyday, from absolutely anything. When the food comes out, that’s the happy part. We always say the service is easy. Getting to the stage where you open the door and are doing service, that’s the part we’re really good at. There are so many little things that need to come together. I laugh now when people say, “staff that’s the killer,” because it’s pretty easy. If they turn up, you’re doing alright.
Tell us, what's the best advice someone has ever given you?
Jordie: If you look at your business in six months time and don’t notice massive changes, you’re not doing enough.
Nikki: Make hay when the sun shines—when it’s good, make it great for everyone.
Shannon: Someone once told me that when you own your own business, you’ll never be tired. It was inspiring at the time, but it is now questionable.
Meet 8th Ave. Terrace’s crazy talented head chef, Chris Harrington, when we chatted with him here.
Image credit: Hayley Williamson for The Urban List