Story & photo Matthew Michaelis
Attitude and Arabesque are classical ballet moves. Now that I’ve got your attention, Peggy Lemaire, owner of the Cool Beans Cafe in Mullumbimby, is a former ballerina.
Peggy has all the poise and finesse that you’d expect from this discipline, but what’s an accomplished classical dancer doing serving food in a town like this do I hear you ask?
Peggy illuminates, ‘Nobody would employ a someone who’d only been a ballerina; consequently I decided that self-employment was really the only way forward for me. I’ve loved it since and I quite like people too,’ she added with a smile.
At a glance, Peggy does look delicate, but she’s as wiry and capable a contender in this business as any I’ve met. She’s been the owner of this well-patronised cafe for almost two years and before that she owned and operated Munch in Byron West for some six years.
It all started in her first business, a cafe in Whistler, Canada, and ended in a relaxed and comfortable refectory in the main street in Mullum.
‘I flit about with a good and reliable staff to prop me up. It’s really essential in this business to have great staff,’ Peggy said. Tay has worked the front of house here for more than two years. This is a person worth her weight in gold; she brings an exuberance to the service of this little eatery that certainly embodies the hospitality that, as a foodie, you look for in the industry.
‘It’s very communal here. Everyone knows each other and people want to help. It’s not unusual to find your customers being considerate. More often than not they’ll bring their plates and cups and clear their own tables here,’ said Tay.
‘I love doing things in a quirky and artistic fashion. While being a former ballerina adds no value to my cafe, it does help when I’m juggling plates to the table and maybe you’ll occasionally see me pirouette.
In the cafe I’m phasing out unsustainable products; my thing is recycle and reuse, and we’re getting rid of the stuff that isn’t sustainable – as it should be in our day and age – things such as cups and plastic bottles,’ Peggy said.
Cool Beans caters for all tastes and has all manner of food choices. The menu is light and accommodating. ‘We serve and prepare our menu to be as organic and local as it possibly can be and cater for vegans, vegetarians, gluten free, and keep most milk alternatives.’
Here it’s brekkie, lunch and afternoon tea and the menu is on all day until they’ve left the building.
For $15 you can feast on the largest breakfast plate or a shakshouka; smoked salmon and scram eggs; a banana oat pancake, or perhaps grab a fresh veggie muffin, a tapas plate to share and wonderful cakes.
‘Tay and Andreas make extremely good coffee,’ Peggy said of her two front-of-house staff (though I’ve only tried the former’s coffee and it is well made).
So, if you like energy with your coffee and food and a service that makes you feel welcomed and a part of the furniture, then stop dancing around with eateries that are too cool for school and come in where everything is cool beans instead.
Cool Beans Cafe
Open seven days.
All-day menu from 7.30am–3pm Monday to Friday, 7.30am–1pm weekends.
47 Burringbar Street, Mullumbimby. 6684 2348