Harry’s Bondi – The Legendary Local.
By now you’ve seen hundreds of eye catching aqua blue coffee cups walking around Bondi Beach and beyond. Harrys Bondi has always had a market position in the eastern suburbs, but last summer the team decided to take things to a whole new level. Owners, Harry, Chris and Maria were ready to start fresh, teaming up with Guru Projects, removing the legendary convencience store and Laundromat, to make way for an inspiring and award winning design concept.
Q. I’m really interested in the back story of Harry’s. The business development and the transitions from a convenience store and Laundromat to where you are now. Not many people know the back story.
When Harry’s first evolved into a sandwich bar and then eventually into a speciality espresso bar in 1987, Chris says they weren’t exactly prepared for the demand. “In fact we just weren’t built for it, but somehow managed, very well, for 5 years”. Transforming from Johns laundrette and John’s convenience store to what is now Harry’s Espresso Bar .
“Speciality coffee was our thing”. Slowly the convenience store was transformed into a high quality but small scale espresso bar, “we were serving almost 3000 coffees a week”. As we started to very quickly evolve, we couldn’t actually supply the demand. It was totally chaotic because the space wasn’t built for that, “so re launching and renovating and re building was always on the cards. we did that for 5 years surprisingly”.
“It didn’t take long after our parents retired, who were in fact running the Laundromat. While Lola and my wife Maria ran the convenience, John ran the laundry. In the current company we have Maria , Harry and myself. I’m the creative side, food, coffee and atmoshphere. Harry is finance and operations and Maria binds everything together”. The A-team.
Chris’s diverse and extraordinary experience in the hospitality industry really is a testament to Harry’s flawless customer service and ability to make every one who walks through the doors feel loved.
Q. Chris tell me about your personal background?
“I’ve had 17 years experience in hospitality, ive had a massive variety of that time within fine dining. Forcefully in 97 i dived into the world of coffee. I went from 3 million dollar dining rooms to a convenience store. From sommelier to coffee. The more I learnt, the deeper I got into it and was then finally able to implement all my talents in the one place, which is what you see now.
Q. What was your experience working with Guru Projects?
“I always wanted a builder I could communicate really well with. David was always good at selling what he was offering and made it sound painless. The proposed timeline that Guru offered was great, and yes, of course there were issues along the way, however David and the Guru team managed it really well. The end result speaks for itself. We have done an awesome job together here. David is incredibly resourceful. Tina had an amazing eye for detail and direction, she listened and advised very well. It’s a testament to what great people they are”.
Q. When it comes to system management, staff and culture, there was quiet a shift from the old espresso bar to Harry’s now, what is the story behind that?
“Energetically everything is infectious. It takes a few people to have the integrity, love and the passion to come in and love what we do every day. I don’t differenciate home from work. Its not second best or first priority to anything else. Most people who work here understand that culture. We feel that this is our ethos, that you just don’t get anywhere else. We are a family and we love everyone that comes in here to feel that we are in service for you. It’s the integrity and the love that we put in to what we do, that everyone sees and feels, from a customers point of view and an employees”.
“A lot of employees find it confronting and hard to work under these conditions as we are constantly here to make sure there is a high duty of care for our customers and for ourselves. We try to create a harmonious atmosphere which is a real challenge because of the suburban locality. But we make it priority to hold orselves to this culture, as well as ensure we work with staff who are understanding and can synchronise to the way that we work and the way we like connecting to people. It’s all about connection for us, it’s about being be able to connect to people and being able to be of service to them rather than just existing. We are not in the business of existing we are in the business of living and that is why people come here”.
It’s been an incredible journey, as a local myself, to watch the evolution of Harry’s Espresso Bar. It just keeps getting better and better and I can’t wait to see what else the Harry’s team come up with!