Meet The Faces Behind 5 Businesses That Have Changed Their Hometowns Into Dream Lands
PEDESTRIAN.TV has partnered with Warner Brothers to celebrate the release of In The Heights.

The people behind small businesses are the backbone of our local communities. They work so dang hard to feed us, caffeinate us and most importantly, form unique bonds with customers from all walks of life.

To celebrate these local legends, recently we asked you (that’s right, our beloved readers) to shout out your favourite local business and tell us why it deserves more attention. After receiving a multitude of heartwarming stories about the people who brighten up your burbs, we handpicked five businesses from all around the country to spotlight.

The stories are all a sage reminder of the important role the relationships we form in our hometowns play in our lives, especially when times get tough — which is basically what Lin Manuel Miranda‘s new film In The Heights is all about. Much like in the film, these local business owners remind us that no matter how far we go from our hometowns, there’ll always be a familiar face behind the counter ready to comfort us when we get back.

Here’s a deeper look into those whose lives are dedicated to putting a smile on other’s faces.

Lillipad Cafe – Glebe, NSW

Lillipad Cafe is an Indigenous-owned and run cafe in Glebe, NSW. Owners Laszio and Nyoka started the business to create a space for the community to come and feel safe and accepted, no matter their cultural background, sexuality, chosen gender or dietary choices.

The cafe also acts as a hub to educate the general public about the true history of Aboriginal culture and food.

“Our favourite thing is having created a place of non-judgement where people from the community feel comfortable and accepted for all their quirks. A place where we celebrate our differences and come together over the love of food and coffee,” said Laszio and Nyoka, describing the best part about owning their cafe.

Five Little Figs – Payneham South, SA

Five Little Figs is a cafe in Payneham South, Adelaide, established as a corner store with a strong community outlook after owner Michelle Campbell felt like they were losing community stores to the larger franchised generic cafes.

When the cafe opened eight years ago, the owners placed a heavy focus on providing a safe space for new mothers groups, local sporting groups and organising small music concerts featuring local talent.

In 2019 when the bushfires hit, Five Little Figs raised funds for victims and used the donations to make meals for them. They also made free meals for those suffering job losses during COVID, despite their own revenue taking a hit during the time.

Our Ruby Girl – Perth, WA

Our Ruby Girl is a cafe in Perth, Western Australia, that provides equal work opportunities to people with disabilities, supports other local businesses in-store, and creates a space of positivity for all. The cafe came to be after owner Sarah Yates became a single mum and needed a job with maximum flexibility, which also combined her love of food, coffee and people.

When COVID hit, the cafe pivoted to creating a menu entirely made up of take home meals, as a way to cater to time-poor parents who needed quick, nutritious, family-friendly ways to feed their kids, as well as keep all staff employed as delivery drivers.

“We have grown with the community and they have grown with us. I love that we have become a meeting place, people chat as they are waiting for their coffees in the morning, they catch up with friends who are dining in when they are. We have seen people get married, fall pregnant and have babies which come visit us at work. It’s the most wonderful thing to watch – the passage of time and life,” said Sarah, reflecting on the community Our Ruby Girl has fostered.

Grit Cafe – Goulburn, NSW

Grit Cafe in Goulburn is run by married couple Kelsey and Charlie, who took over from the original owners in 2018. Located right on the Hume Highway, their goal for the cafe is to to provide a healthy, homemade alternative from the fast-food chains that dominate the main road. 

“Our customers are our family, we are here for the good times and the bad. We know every single customer who walks through our door has made the effort to support Grit and there is no better feeling,” Kelsey and Charlie.

“Recently a close friend lost her 9-month-old baby, and Grit Cafe made up a hamper for the family out of the kindness of their own heart,” said Kate, who shouted-out Grit.

Bezirk Cafe – Altona, VIC

Bezirk is a small cafe in Altona, Victoria, which owner Michael Younan purchased not only because of its incredible beach location but because of its existing tight-knight community feel. Michael attribute’s the cafe’s success over the last few years to the connection they have with their customers (who they describe as literally being their ‘neighbours’), and their focus on providing the highest quality service.

Developing the friendships that we have with our customers, where going to work has become like going to see our mates. We live ten minutes from Bezirk, so it’s become home for us,” said Michael on why he loves running Bezirk.

Michael described the support the cafe received during COVID as being ‘overwhelming’, in which they created a pay-it-forward system during lockdown last year in response. They’ve also created a pool of money to help anyone in their community doing it tough at the moment too.

You can catch In The Heights in cinemas now. For those in states with COVID restrictions in place, once all is safe again, make sure you don’t miss out on the good vibes on the big screen.
Image: Bezirk Cafe / Lillipad Cafe