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52: 38 - Frank & Ginger

Name: Frank & Ginger
Address: 101 Orrong Crescent, North Caulfield
Web: www.facebook.com/frankandginger
Served by: Jesse
Owned by: Jesse and Nick

Since moving to Victoria, this fair state has continued to unveil many gems. Take for instance, the trams  “what do you mean they don’t pull over to the side of the road like buses?”. The weather – I honestly thought everyone was being dramatic; evidently they are not.  And lastly the dirty “C” word. That’s right…Culture! For a kid who grew up on the Gold Coast, Melbourne is a welcomed cultural slap in the face and I’ve immensely enjoyed learning about the local cultures, especially the Jewish community. So you can imagine our excitement when team Super Tectonics went exploring in North Caulfield (a well known Jewish suburb of Melbourne) and we found what resembled a Gold Coast mirage – our two favourite things sandwiched in one!!!

So what’s good about Frank and Ginger?

It’s context. Yes, it’s in a Jewish part of town, but Frank and Ginger sits proudly on what looks like any typical suburban street corner in a gathering of small shops. The only difference, it has the biggest of big palm trees you’ll see south of QLD right out the front. Here, the café is in full view of passing cars and feet, while patrons can sit for hours under the shade of the palm tree and it’s protective, dancing fronds.

This outside area has some great resort inspired white outdoor furniture, which sits starkly against the faded purples and deep pinks of the building's rendered façade. With only a small interior, this outdoor space is an absolute score for owners Jesse and Nick, which afford them the ability to double their capacity externally – perfect as we head towards summer.

Approaching the café, an expanse of bi-fold glazed doors creates a great hole in the wall insertion. The crisp white of the frames is carried through to the interior with polypropylene white chairs with timber legs and also referenced again in the cheerfully, cursive logo that has just the right amount of sass to it – which happens to be designed by Jesse’s talented sister at http://jazzfeldy.com.

Here inside, the palette is clean and simple.  Concrete floor, ply wall cladding, ply joinery and ply furniture sit against the best pop of super graphic coral paint you’ve seen in a while. Splayed across the sidewall in a brilliant geometric slash, the warmth of this internal colour, references the façade colours well and you get a great sense of potentially unintentional continuity.

The internal planning is simple; takeaway bench to the front left, coffee bench behind with the kitchen nestled beyond and extending long along the left recesses of the back of house area. This leaves a small foot print to the right for a great bench seat against the super graphic wall, complete with grey upholstered hard-wearing seat pads, and some small grouped tables.

Facing North, you get the best light all day and this penetrates the cavern like café giving it a bright and airy mood with a beautiful play on light and shadow, as we saw when we visited early Sunday morning.  Clever ply hanging pots filled with overflowing foliage, add just the right amount of green into the space and create a nice scale balance to the super graphic on the opposite wall.

Frank and Ginger doesn’t push the boundaries, they do the basics well. It’s an economical solution that delivers a good quality fit-out with smart spatial planning. These kids have done this before!  And this depth of experience shines through in some of the cafes quirky features.  The cute drop-off window, where plates and cups can be easily placed without going into the kitchen area. The addition of a small agricultural shelf over the water bottles to take advantage of more storage space on the counter. Even the cute coral painted ply triangles that sit as table pieces, referencing the oversize triangle graphic on the wall.  

It is these technical, practical and aesthetic considerations that show you how much thought Jesse and Nick have gone to. And Design Nerds like us, or even the local Saturday Latte crew, definitely appreciate it.

What could be better about Frank and Ginger? 

As much as we love ply for it’s economical warmth to any fit out, ply to floor junctions are never successful in hospitality environments.   You can already see the wear and tear at Frank and Ginger and we would always recommend investing that extra bit of cash in your joinery and putting casework on a raised plinth. This protects the material and makes it look cleaner, LONGER!

Although the space gets great Northern light, Frank and Ginger would benefit from some pendants to break the space up – nothing too big, the smaller the better, but a simple fitting to match the existing aesthetic that serves as a point of difference.

And though we think the suburban Gold Coast pathway feel on the tables outside is fantastic, Jesse and Nick should think seriously about how they can protect their patrons in the colder, windier months to maintain good business. Being so exposed in a Melbourne winter is not fun!

Another element of the design  - the front counter - that whilst awesome, falls into the same trap as many cafes - the staff get hidden behind it with the coffee machine stacked on top.   Maintaining eye lines is always helpful in hospitality for customer attention, however Frank and Ginger can just get away with this due to their compact size.  It's also worth mentioning that direct sunlight hits the treats in the front vitrine – which could prove an issue in the warmer months.

Lastly, the grey upholstered seat pads to the bench seat is annoyingly about 150mm too long, which looks odd hanging over the bench. 

What’s its thing?

Do we really need to answer this one this week?  It's pretty damn obvious to anyone who enters the fine space that is Frank & Ginger - SUPER GRAPHIC - in a simple geomtry that punches you in the face as soon as you enter... in an awesome way. 

Defining Design Details

  • Super SUPER Graphics – such an easy and affordable way to inject some personality into a space.
  • Plywood wall cladding – with simple nail fixings, it commands the room and creates a home.
  • Quirky Practical Features – the pretty things that also work well just get us excited.
  • Palm Tree – it just makes you feel like you are a skip away from the beach. 
  • Hanging home-made pot plants – too darn’ cute for words.

In chatting with the wonderful Jesse, we found out he and business partner Nick also own the very compact and quaint Gardner and Field in Armadale. Driving by on the weekend we could barely see inside due to all the people, but what we could see, we liked! So we’ll be heading over there in the coming weeks to see Frank and Ginger's Big Brother - Gardner and Field - in action.