The lunch rush might be over but it’s still busy at Bond Street Kitchen on Queen Street in Melbourne’s CBD. Clusters of customers are lingering over a final coffee with friends or taking that lunch meeting into the afternoon. It’s a familiar scenario for owner Amber Mehta, who mingles easily with the regulars and newbies who have made Bond Street Kitchen the place to fill up today.
When Amber finally finds the time to sit down and chat, he’s wearing a big smile and eager to talk about the café he brought back from the brink. He says, ‘It never fails to excite me to see these tables full and people with their plates scraped clean in front of them.’ He says. It’s a big turnaround for the place he took over in 2016, when staff morale was at a low ebb and returning customers were few and far between. ‘I just saw a great opportunity here to do something really special,’ he enthuses.
Amber’s vision for Bond Street Kitchen was to enhance the existing character of the café but revolutionise the food offerings. ‘There are loads of ultra-slick and sophisticated places to eat in the city. But what I wanted to do was create delicious food, but still keep it casual and relaxed. The idea here is to help office workers find a little pocket of peace away from their high pressure environment.’
That high-pressure environment is one that Amber himself is all too familiar with. And perhaps it explains why now he’s so adamant about creating its antidote in the form of a wholesome, friendly cafe. He says, ‘In my old life I worked in sales. I was on the phone all day wheeling and dealing. There were targets to meet and the stakes were high. But it just wasn’t me and I’d had enough of the corporate life. I wanted to do something that connected to a passion I’ve always had; food.’
Amber recalls vivid memories growing up and working alongside his mother in the kitchen, watching while she prepared some of his favourite dishes. Over time he came to master some of her classics himself and create variations of his own. His father, too, is a talented cook and family meals are still a highlight for the young café owner. ‘Good food just brings so much happiness,’ he says. ‘When I decided I wanted to open a café of my own I just wanted to immerse myself in that love of good food and the pleasure of sharing it again. In preparation to open my own café I travelled all over the world eating. It was the best research trip ever!’ And he brought back loads of ideas and an appetite for success.
On his return Amber snapped up the flagging Bond Street Kitchen and got to work, toiling in the kitchen for 4 months before emerging into the light to set about meeting and greeting his new fans. ‘I don’t sleep much,’ he laughs, ‘But I’ll be honest with you – I actually don’t mind waking up at 5am. I’m just excited every day to be here, doing what I love.’ And with that, he’s up and away, getting back to the job he adores and the customers who can’t get enough of it.
Monday 7:00am – 3:30pm
Tuesday 7:00am – 3:30pm
Wednesday 7:00am – 3:30pm
Thursday 7:00am – 3:30pm
Friday 7:00am – 3:30pm
Saturday – Sunday CLOSED
18 Queen St, Melbourne VIC 3000 | (03) 9614 6403 | www.bond-street-kitchen.business.site