Snapshot: Jani, Zubi Cafe, Newport

Snapshot: Jani, Zubi Cafe, Newport

The Beatles' "Come Together" is an apt song to be playing in Zubi Cafe this morning. While customers stream in, most called by name with a familiar exchange, behind the rustic counters there's a palpable camaraderie between the staff.

This morning Brazilian brothers and baristas Denis and Eduardo, as well as Nicky, Nyree and Jani, are working the coffee machine and cash drawer (cash only, if you please) while locals pour in from the street and plop themselves at benches to glance at the morning papers (The Financial Review, The Daily Telegraph, The Sydney Morning Herald) and partake in the first hot beverage of the day.

Jani, 44, an effervescent spirit who has been with the cafe since it opened in June 2009, greets her youngest daughter, Pearl, with a warm hug between delivering orders and joking with her co-workers (what are her "issues" today, asks Nicky. "None," she says. "It's almost spring!"). 

A landscaper by trade and mother of four, Jani attends to the cafe's outdoor garden area when she's not at the service counter, a blackboard displaying the cafe's simple menu of toast, banana bread, pear and raspberry bread, egg & prosciutto panini, baguettes and Portuguese tarts tucked away behind her. In and out with minimal fuss and a friendly smile is the operating mantra here. 

Soon the cafe staff will reflect on the year gone by since the original proprietor, Pete Dyball, passed away from Motor Neurone disease. Jani, whose eldest daughter was given a life-saving bone marrow transplant by her second son, has had her fair share of grief, but is at a place of humble acceptance in her life; she smiles easily, and beautifully.

"I'm a lot more relaxed now," she says. "I don't want to go back to the 25-year-old I was. I don't like her very much. I like getting older. I like the calmness, the peace and the acceptance. Life is good."

As she gets back to work, naming each coffee cup in black felt and Bob Evans' "You've Been On My Mind" playing in the background, you get the sense that the warm meeting place Pete created for all these wonderful people is the legacy of a life well lived.

New owner Steve Hulley, a tall and handsome bloke, carries on the tradition. The Sydney Morning Herald Good Cafe Guide even awarded Zubi a special heart symbol this year for its "special spirit and sense of joy".

"Peter really did put a lot into it and there's still a lot of him here," says Jani. "We're very proud. We got a great review in the Guide. We call ourselves the Zubi family. We love each other very much." 

You can visit Zubi via Facebook or at 323c Barrenjoey Road, Newport Beach, between 6am and 2pm.

Girl With a Satchel


Jani said...

Wow Erica, thank you so much for such a beautiful observation of what we enjoy daily. We'd love to see you 'at the bench' at Zubi Bar whenever you are close by.
Big Kiss, Jani