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Businesses of Banyule’ presents Miss Marie Cafe’, Rosanna

Six years after opening Miss Marie Café in Beetham Parade, Rosanna, Paul Parrella still gets a buzz when he sees people lining up for breakfast on the weekend.

And while weekends are particularly busy, weekdays still pack a crowd at the 57-seat cafe, with people eager to catch up over coffee, with tasty breakfasts and lunches, or tempting sweet treats on offer.

For Paul and his wife Vanessa, who both have extensive backgrounds in hospitality, Miss Marie was their first foray into owning and running a café. In November 2016, deciding they  still had the passion to do something else, they opened another café, The A-Team, in Watsonia.

Paul thoroughly enjoys interacting with customers and says that although running a cafe is a pressure environment it’s rewarding. “You become part of the community. They come to you for many things, such as donations and sponsorships or asking you about local issues, and at Christmas they bring you bottles of champagne and other gifts,” he said. “We are very lucky and have a very loyal following.”

Asked whether running a café is different to running other small businesses, Paul says that the fundamentals are the same: “You need to be confident in what you are doing, have a good product and good service.”

“In a café you have to have good food and good coffee rather than just one or the other. You also need a nice fit-out, nothing too fancy but a good job well done, and you can’t cut corners with portion sizes. Consistency is the key. People want the same food and coffee every day. We don’t want people to say ‘it’s not as good as last time’ or have the quality of someone’s coffee changing with each barista.”

Paul is also adamant that as for any successful small business, but particularly in hospitality, good service is critical and critical to good service is having good staff. The good service at Miss Marie, along with the quality of the coffee and food, was cited by all those who voted for them in the 2016 Banyule Bestbiz Awards, with the café winning the Cafes & Takeaways category.

Paul employs about 20 staff on a casual basis at Miss Marie, with many of them local, and believes in putting time and effort into their training. And now, as Paul and Vanessa embark on running two cafes, having good staff is more important than ever. “While being an owner-operator is good because customers see you, you can’t make your business reliant on you being there all the time or you are setting yourself up for failure. You are only as good as your team. If you don’t have a good team, it’s so hard,” he said.