With luscious lawns that creep up to the lake’s edge situated in amongst a family-friendly community at the foot of the Adelaide Hills, the space is almost crying out to be used as a community space. A café perhaps? And local Mount Barker resident Ryan Philcox agreed.
Mid-last year, Ryan took the leap and started working towards building what he calls a café but is really so much more. The Landing at East Village officially opened in September but it hasn’t been all smooth sailing and Ryan’s journey to get his space open is one that would have sent most people packing.
Given an opening date, Ryan hired staff and was all ready to go before being told on the day of handover that the site wouldn’t be complete for another month. Not wanting to let his newly appointed team down, the café was opened just for weekend service and only offered the basics – tea, coffee and pastries. With no kitchen, anything more was out of the question.
Things continued to go wrong from Ryan with huge building delays meaning there was no power or gas to run the business and resulting in a heavy reliance on generators. Ryan went through nine generators in six months.
“The generators kept failing,” Ryan explains. “Every time one of them would die we’d lose all of our stock and had to start again so instead of investing more money into the build, I was just simply just trying to regain what was lost.”
Luckily, the Mount Barker community rallied, as they do, to support The Landing Café showing up daily for coffees and treats.
“The support from the community has been incredible,” says Ryan.
“It’s the reason why I chose to start a business here. Mount Barker and The Hills is a fantastic place and I can’t thank everyone enough.”
And while the support was welcomed, Ryan wanted to offer more. He wanted to give the community the full experience that he envisioned.
“We were known as the café without power. It was almost a running joke about what would go wrong today and that isn’t the legacy we wanted to leave or how we wanted to be known.”
Six months later and The Landing Café is finally running how it was almost meant to.
“Getting on top of all of that and surviving through the hard times is what drives us to keep going. We’ve managed to overcome not just the normal adversities that come with starting a business but also Covid and then everything else.”
Celebrating with a relaunch event last week, The Landing Café is a fully licensed venue sitting on a large, open area that is perfect for families. The outdoor lawn area is completely enclosed so mum and dad can relax with a coffee (or a wine) knowing their little ones are safe.
And while the hospitality industry is a competitive one by nature, Ryan believes there is a place for all.
“Mount Barker has some incredible options for cafes so we’re trying to identify where we can fit in rather than going up against them. We want to compliment the community rather than compete against it.”
Now to the food. The café is really a showcase of local produce with Ryan ensuring as many products used within the kitchen are from local growers and suppliers.
Brunch, burgers and bowls are their general motto and Ryan assures me that there is something for everyone with the entire menu able to be made gluten-free and more than enough vegan options to satisfy.
“We try to cater to as many dietary requirements as possible,” he says. “People are more aware of what they’re consuming these days – where it came from, how it’s sourced and the health benefits and so it’s our job to cater to that.”
A specially curated toastie menu is also available created by local legend Eli. Eli’s story is one of hope and perseverance after he nearly lost his life in a car accident. Unfortunately, road safety is something that has touched most people living in a rural area, particularly one with roads like the hills, and Ryan and Eli are joining forces to raise awareness. Fundraising and expose for The Get Home Safe Foundation runs directly through The Landing Café with both Ryan and Eli actively helping to bring like-minded people from CFS volunteers to local MPs to create the committee.
Open 7 days a week from 8am The Landing is the perfect spot morning, noon or night (on the weekends) with bookings appreciated.
The Landing Café at East Village is located at 1 Aston Parade, Mount Barker 5251