TWO common sayings spring to mind when visiting Northbridge’s newest espresso bar, the adorably titled Love Thy Neighbour.
And here’s why: the cafe is more of a hole-in-the-wall with minimal seating for guests – hence tiny – and is at the rear of Williams Lane, backing on to a buried car park – so is somewhat challenging to find.
Once you get there though you’re adequately rewarded, with freshly-made Toby’s Estate coffee, bagels, BLTs, jaffles and cakes.
And as owner Talmage Andersen (TJ), of small bar Ezra Pound next door said, you can then delight in telling friends how you unearthed a cool little find.
“I built it to be a destination place. When I first launched Ezra (2009), people said I was crazy to open in a laneway: ‘you’re not going to be busy’ and ‘there’s no way people will find out about you’, they said.
“I was never worried though because if the product is really good, there’s no reason why people shouldn’t come. Plus, folk love to go out of their way to find something special.”
A waiter by trade, 26-year-old New Zealand- born TJ came to Perth from Melbourne five years ago to manage now-defunct Verve Restaurant & Bar.
He returned to Melbourne for a year, but grew restless. His inspiration for the coffee spot, at the former Urbanistar site, came from New York where he soaked in the city’s bars and cafes.
“NY has a lot of little spots in East Village and Lower East Side where you just rock up and get a coffee at the window – I really loved that idea,” he said.
“When it came to the design, I got my friend and artist Twoone on board. I needed something to brighten up a dull laneway. His speciality is in animals and beasts so I gave him the story of coffee – the tale of the dancing goats (which can be seen on the walls).”
TJ resides in Northbridge, one of his favourite Perth suburbs.
“It has all different kinds of bars and clubs, from the cheesy to the small ones, like The Bird and 399,” he said.
“When we opened Ezra, we had no idea the area was going to become the next big spot. It was really exciting to see the strip grow and have new shops come in.”
Expect another bar/restaurant opening in about six months.