A touch of France has been added to a favourite Manly bar/café, restaurant on the beachfront, courtesy of the new owners.
A much-loved Manly haunt for coffee, drinks and food - Hemingway’s - is also now the proud holder of the COVERED. Café Coffee Wars title. Hemingway’s took the crown in the hotly contested battle to win prime position as the Coffee King of the Northern Beaches.
More than 4,000 coffee lovers across the peninsula voted for their favourites among the 29 cafés who took part, and Hemingway’s topped the polls overall.
When new owner Sonia Piantoni arrived at Hemingway’s almost a year ago, she confesses, “I knew nothing about coffee. We don’t do coffee like this in France!”
She quickly realised the necessity of understanding coffee and immersed herself in coffee culture, quickly upskilling to learn about coffee beans, roasting and, of course, making coffee.
“Now everyone who works here has to be able to make coffee, it’s the one thing we insist on.”
“Our managers were really essential for our learning process, and they came up with the idea that we should be able to provide coffee all day long, from 7am everyday, instead of 8am to 3pm as previously.
“Thanks to them, now everyone who works here has to be able to make coffee, it’s the one thing we insist on. And if you come to work here from France you first have to learn all about coffee,” she laughs.
Sonia and her husband bought Hemingway’s in October 2014. Emmanuel Deleuze had lived in Manly when he was younger so Sonia had heard all about the beachside community before the couple brought their two daughters here for a holiday a few years before making the move.
The couple ran three restaurants, one - L’Epicurien, a Michelin Star restaurant, in the French mountain resort, Val Thorens. They worked there for fifteen ski seasons, building their business and working full-time and more through the hectic ski season for about six months of the year.
“We came and the girls loved it and so we then had the motivation to make the move,” she explains. Emmanuel moved here ahead of Sonia and the couple’s daughters and she stayed to finish the ski season in France and the school year.
Sonia says the children love Manly and the beach lifestyle and they are slowly bringing a touch of home to Manly with the introduction of French cuisine like Cheese Fondue and Hot Stone cooking.
Tarte Flambée (French version of white pizza), Croque Madame, and Steak Frites are already popular.
And while the menus will have seasonal changes, Sonia and her team are already looking forward to the warmer weather.
Sonia says she also had to become accustomed to the Australian breakfast and to the type of food popular in Manly.
“We are French and our background is French cuisine so we had a lot to learn but now we are a lot more comfortable with everything.” And now it is time for them to bring some of their expertise to Australia as they meld the two cultures together.
And apart from having to learn more about coffee, Sonia says they had to quickly get up to speed on cocktails, not so popular in France perhaps, as they are in Manly.
Hemingway’s has introduced live music and hopes to build on this and become a venue where local entertainers can perform. It’s also attracting a number of functions both upstairs and in the main area and Sonia hopes this side of things will also grow.
But for now –if you want a good Australian-standard coffee – Hemingway’s is the place to go.