The new cafe space at Carina Leagues Club.

By Grant Jones

Once an afterthought, quality cafés in clubs are now part of a grander plan to have patrons linger longer at all times of the day.

Clubs see standalone café spaces and dedicated coffee offerings as great revenue-raisers throughout different periods of the day. The importance of a quality café offering in a club includes not only the coffees being ordered and how patrons are having it, but what they are having with it, at what times, and in what environment it is delivered.

So who is doing coffee well in the club space? Prior to undertaking a major $7 million renovation, Brothers Leagues Cairns sought inspiration from members about what they wanted in their venue. That research highlighted the need to attract a slightly younger, female audience who wanted a contemporary daytime café. And so the upscale Fratelli’s café was born.

At the heart of the recent downstairs refurb, Fratelli’s features floor-to-ceiling windows, sheltered by a Mediterranean-inspired blue-and-white awning. Taking inspiration from the theme, the new café features an all-day menu with Mediterranean-inspired grazing options along with pizzas, snacks, treats and, of course, coffee.

Also in Queensland, outside of Bundaberg, part of Sandhills Sports Club’s redevelopment and new clubhouse, included a transformed open-plan space which includes an impressive new café. The space sets the scene for a whole new look and feel of the club.

“At Sandhills Sports Club, like so many other clubs and cafés, we have quality coffee, cakes and delicious delights, but these days that alone isn’t enough to stand out in a competitive market,” says club general manager Jodie Harris. “Nowadays, you certainly cannot be successful without great products, but it is only one part of what you need to provide for the discerning customer.

“Our café area was deliberately designed as the heart of our club – the central point, allowing patrons to immerse themselves into the full scope of club offerings. The café location takes full advantage of the welcoming Queensland sunshine with the amazing natural light providing a warm and friendly atmosphere, when combined with our comfortable seating, welcoming staff, and friendly members, we believe our cafe environment is well worth a visit.”

Seven Hills RSL Club, in Sydney’s west, recently unveiled its own new look, including a new café at Fitzroy Lane. Apart from tea, cake and coffee, Fitzroy Lane also has a dessert bar that features gelato. The new offering sits in a light-filled open-plan space lifted by soaring ceilings, booth seating and greenery. While Fitzroy Lane is now up and running, the club’s Iron Bark Café is also undergoing some renovations to expand the current kitchen area. Once done it will offer light lunch meal options.

At Club Helensvale’s new refit on the Gold Coast Hinterland, the Café Discovery menu starts with a cappuccino and finishes with a Vienna, with options of almond, soy and lactose-free milk, plus vanilla, hazelnut or caramel flavour shot. And don’t forget the Dirty Chai Latte, just as they like it on the Goldie.

So important are clubs in the coffee space that Nestlé Professional recently unveiled a new look for one of its Buondi brands – Complex Soul – at Wallarah Bay Recreation Club on the NSW Central Coast.

“At Wallarah Bay Recreation Club, our catering business is a huge part of our competitive appeal,” venue manager Paul Hope says. “We are fortunate that our location, right on scenic Tuggerah Lake, provides an excellent backdrop for dining.

“Providing a quality coffee product is an essential part of the overall offering, which helps to build business outside of the traditional lunch and dinner times. We have many patrons who take advantage of our great range of coffee and cakes throughout the whole day.”

This is an extract from a feature in the Winter issue of Club Management. Keep reading below.

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