Disclaimer: I am a massive fan of The Rag Land Cafe, which I shared in my very first post. I was lucky enough to share a meal with Dave at Mi Casa Su Casa, a pop up supper club in Sydney, and when I found out he was in to coffee and had a cafe, I knew I needed to investigate.Since The Rag Land is super close to Eveleigh Market, it is a perfect stop for a pre-market coffee or a post-market brunch. So get geard up to get excited about Redfern! It rocks!
LS: Who are you? What makes you tick? Any special details Local Sprouts readers should know about you?
DJ: My name is David Jiew and I’m a Malaysian born Sydney-sider. I’m a cafe owner/coffee lover/all-round nice man (I think, hah!) and I’m actually a qualified engineer by trade. I left the corporate world in late 2010 as I’ve always been passionate about the hospitality industry, and owning my own business was the ultimate goal. I have been doing this for a little over 2 years now, starting with a small café in Coogee and now a slightly bigger one in Redfern. My next goal is to own a café cum florist as I grew up in the trade with my parents who are still working in the business, even though they’re both well into their 70s! Aside from the café/coffee industry my other areas of interest include: good food, vintage collectables and interior décor.
LS: Where is your local community/neighbourhood and what do you love about it/how could you describe it?
My current local community is Redfern-Waterloo. Before my moved here (I currently work and live in the same locale), I have lived on the lower north shore and also in the eastern suburbs of Sydney. The choice to move was definitely a very conscious one. What I love about the area is the diversity of the community; people in Redfern-Waterloo literally come from all different walks of life – whether it be through race, religion or socio-economic status. Everyone is friendly and the other aspect I enjoy is that there’s a huge Indigenous community which also makes it culturally rich. Basically, the sense that I get from having lived and own a business in the area for the past four months is that everyone is welcomed here and I love that!
LS: If you were showing someone from out of town around your local area, where would you take them?
DJ: Carriegeworks and the Eveleigh Farmers Market come to mind. I have actually brought visitors there before and have always had great feedback. Sydney Uni is another great landmark, for visitors with kids the open spaces on campus are great. While they’re there, I will also extend the visit over to Victoria Park and the local pool facility. In terms of local food/drinking joints, I would take them to Freda’s, Arcadia Liquors, theshortlist, The House Specialty Coffee bar, Townbike Pit Stop, Milk Bar by Café Ish, Wah Fung Chinese BBQ and also the Purple Goanna Café for some bush tucker. There are also some really good Asian joints in the extended Redfern area (closer to Broadway) – places that come to mind are Golden Fang’s, Malacca Straits, Sunflower Café and Shalom Indonesian Restaurant.
LS: What does ‘local’ mean to you/your work/your family?
DJ: ‘Local’ to me means embracing everything about the area; the good and not-so-good, and also supporting the local businesses and not-for-profit endeavors as best as I can. I am also a big believer in treating everyone equally; I have a strict no discrimination policy at the café and welcome everyone – as long as they apply the same rule themselves. I have had some negative experience with a couple of neighbouring business owners who have tried to discourage me from allowing certain local residents (based on their socio-economic and/or racial status) to patronize the café and I absolutely detest this. I have great belief in the genuine human spirit and treat everyone equally – be it bloggers who come in and write about the café, residents in the area, local pre-school teachers to senior pensioners who come in for their daily coffee and human company. To me, being local is also about making an effort to support local causes, i.e. supporting local organizers in getting a Redfern Festival started in 2013.
LS: Hidden local gem?
DJ: The EORA Fitness Centre – it is honestly one of the best gyms I have been too! The staff members here are so friendly and they do a really great job in offering the community a range of amazing fitness classes and group personal training sessions. It is also a gym that prides itself in offering various kid-friendly activities and I think it’s a brilliant idea! Keep the kids off the streets and at the gym where they can channel all their energy into something positive like team building and getting fit!
LS: Local person, cultural or food experience Local Sprouts should seek out?
DJ: Local experiences –
* The Nunnery Bike Workshop which is held weekly (at the parking lot outside the housing commission tower on the corner of Philip and Cope streets) is a community-based group of enthusiastic bike minded people who recycle pre-loved or abandoned bikes, parts and accessories to help you make a functional bike to be used in the community.
*And also check out FBi Radio at 94.5fm; as a community based radio station they do an amazing job in terms of promoting the local music, arts and culture scene. I’m a big fan of their work and they’re just around the corner from my café!