A Gourmet Experience

Shingle Inn

Shingle Inn is a family run, boutique chain of cafés, blending the grandeur and traditions of yesteryear with a contemporary vibe. Born in the midst of the Great Depression, Shingle Inn is more than just a business; it is a fascinating part of Brisbane’s local history. “It’s remarkable what’s achievable when we combine good franchisees that treat the business as though they are truly a part of the family,” says Co-Director Andrew Bellchambers, “with the expertise we’ve been able to retain in our internal team.”

Family Tradition

There is a unique story behind Shingle Inn, and it begins in 1936. David Webster and Sons built the original Shingle Inn on Edward Street in Brisbane. One of his sons, W.R. Webster, was the Managing Director of Shingle Inn and the founder of the Webster Cake and Biscuit Company of the 1890s era. He had a vision for Shingle Inn to be an elegant English style teahouse and restaurant, one that would be renowned throughout Brisbane for its quality products and keen sense of style. Shingle Inn soon developed an enviable reputation with locals and the venue became a busy landmark. People particularly loved the decadent bakery specialities and every Friday the queue to buy Shingle Inn cakes would stretch out the door and around the corner.

Due to the acquisition of the Webster family company by an overseas firm, the Shingle Inn was facing abandonment in the early 1970s. Fortunately, Noel and Barbara Bellchambers took over Shingle Inn in 1975 after a brief negotiation with the nephew of W.R. Webster. In 1996, the Queensland Heritage Council provisionally listed Shingle Inn but unfortunately, due to pressures of inner city building redevelopment, the Bellchambers family was forced to dismantle the much-loved store in August 2002 to make way for the Queens Plaza. They decided to develop the concept of Shingle Inn further into a chain of cafés retaining the strong family culture and charming character of the original store.

Today the Shingle Inn has 30 cafés throughout Queensland, NSW, ACT and Victoria with the sons of Noel and Barbara Bellchambers, Peter and Andrew, at the helm of the business. The cafés are inspired by the opulent teahouses of the 1930s, with comfortable high back chairs, lavish lamps and rich colours inviting customers to sit back, relax and enjoy something from the menu. Instore, staff that pride themselves on delivering an exceptional level of customer service create a warm, relaxing atmosphere. Many employees across the board have been with the Shingle Inn for over 10 years and in some cases, more than 20 years. “It’s very important to us to maintain the heritage of the brand including the company’s reputation for superior quality coffee, cakes and food that has enabled Shingle Inn to remain a market leader for more than 75 years and that’s more easily achieved with continuity within the management team,” explains Andrew.

Delicious Cuisine

The Shingle Inn menu has been drawing customers back for over 75 years. Some café patrons are third generation customers, first taken to the Shingle Inn by their grandparents. “One of our advantages is our approach to offering an extensive, freshly prepared menu that uses a wide variety of ingredients, ensuring we cater to customers with traditional tastes while trialling new products via our monthly lunch specials.” No matter whether customers are after breakfast, want lunch with friends, are celebrating a special occasion or just need a quick coffee, the Shingle Inn has something to suit. With sweet potato, pine nuts, rocket, lemon and vintage cheddar, The Shingle Inn Omelette is a delicious way to start the day. Another great choice is the hearty All Day Big Breakfast, which is served with a complimentary orange juice, tea or coffee.

The Shingle Inn also boasts a variety of tasty lunch options, from the signature Lamb Filo and Tuscan Ravioli to Bruschetta and Nachos. With hot mashed potatoes and Shingle Inn’s signature sage and onion marmalade, the Rich Beef Steak Burgundy Pie is a wonderful choice. Hints of basil, oregano and a creamy béchamel sauce make the Traditional Beef Lasagne another outstanding dish. Vegetarians will love the Tuscan Ravioli finished with shaved parmesan and the mouth-watering Mediterranean Melt loaded with eggplant, zucchini, capsicum, sun dried tomatoes, mushrooms and cheese.

There is plenty from Shingle Inn’s Gourmet Sandwiches range to tempt the tastebuds, with choices like Smoked Salmon and Cream Cheese, Chicken Caesar and the popular BLT. “I ordered quite a number of Turkey, Bacon and Camembert Gourmet Sandwiches throughout my visits to stores in December,” remarks Andrew. “My favourite from our regular menu is also a gourmet sandwich: our Chicken, Avocado and Camembert Gourmet Sandwich that has a delicious chilli mayonnaise. I always order it on panini.”

The baristas at Shingle Inn knows how to make an amazing coffee and judging from pleasing sales figures, customers agree. “There’s no doubt we’re committed to keeping at the forefront of the coffee industry, given the volume our stores are doing,” says Peter. “We hold two annual barista competitions and are preparing a number of our baristas to participate in the wider coffee community over the coming year.” A barista qualified by Shingle Inn’s training program led by Primo is behind the coffee machine at all times, in all stores. “This guarantees our customers are receiving the perfect extraction from our coffee beans, producing an exceptional coffee on every occasion.”

Of course, something sweet is the perfect accompaniment to a coffee and Shingle Inn customers are spoilt for choice. Treat yourself to a scrumptious, gluten free Baci Torte, a heavenly Charlotte Royale or try a Shingle Inn classic, the delightfully tangy Lemon Meringue Pie. The Patty Cakes are irresistible. Patty Cakes are a specialty from Shingle Inn, which has sold nearly 12.5 million of the sweet treats since its doors first opened. “We still bake using our traditional recipes and with real ingredients, as though you were making the cakes at home.” Shingle Inn’s High Tea is the perfect way to celebrate a special occasion or make any day special. Indulge and unwind with a fine selection of sweet and savoury treats beautifully presented on a two-tier silver platter.

Healthy Progress

Over the last 12 months, Shingle Inn has experienced significant growth, doubling to 30 cafés. This year, Shingle Inn is continuing to expand its network throughout Australia, aiming to have 45 stores open by the end of 2013. Negotiations are already underway to secure premier sites for prospective franchisees. “Time is my greatest challenge at the moment,” says Andrew. “Having enough time to progress the business growth which includes travel to new states and territories, whilst also keeping a strategic focus, can be a struggle at times. Along with growth, innovation is at the forefront of our agenda this year and that requires dedicating time to developing plans and an internal culture with continuous improvement at its heart.”

One very special store opening will be this April when Shingle Inn’s historic Edward Street Store re-opens in Brisbane City Council’s redevelopment of City Hall. “It will be great to see the reincarnation of the original store,” comments Andrew, who goes on to say that it will be a reminder of the grandness of a bygone era and the importance of customer service. The re-opening store event presents franchisees with an important opportunity. “I’m really hoping it will give our franchisees who never visited our original store some further insight into our heritage. I hope they can develop a deeper understanding of the grandeur and allure the café held for our customers over the years; that they can better appreciate the significance of being able to share special times with loved ones over quality products with exceptional service.”

For the Shingle Inn brand, innovation is another key area of focus for 2013. The ultimate aim is to create greater efficiency without losing the personal touches that make dining at Shingle Inn a memorable experience. Providing customers with individual attention and a high level of service is something that is frequently missing in café culture today and is something that Shingle Inn strives to maintain. Engaging with customers on social media and utilising smartphone technology will enable Shingle Inn to satisfy customer needs like never before. Indeed, the willingness to preserve the best of yesterday while embracing the advances of today is what enables Shingle Inn to progress towards a better tomorrow.

Making Sense of Management

Management is the art, or science, of getting things done through people. Sounds fairly straightforward – except for the fact that people are not robots waiting to do our bidding. People have their own minds, motivations, and goals. So how do managers keep operations – and the people behind them – running as planned?

December 19, 2018, 9:25 AM AEDT