Passionate restaurateur Tom Labrakis draws on his Greek heritage to create a warm, welcoming space where customer happiness and satisfaction are paramount. He recently opened Ironwood Coffee Company/Cafe at Woolwich as a way to bring his and co-owner Angelo Glinellis’s sons into the business and, as a team, they deliver sumptuous Mediterranean food and boutique organic and fair trade coffee – roasted in-house – to eager patrons.

The challenge

To transform a space previously occupied by a Japanese restaurant into a Mediterranean coffee house/restaurant in a timeframe of around three months.

How Cafeideas helped

Tom explains that even before signing the lease, a major priority was a phone call to Damien Aitken at Cafeideas to discuss some early planning.

“I’ve been dealing with Cafeideas for twelve years,” Tom says. “I’ve had other restaurants and cafes and I’ve always found that I get the best service and advice from them. I don’t bother calling anyone else.”

Damien, Tom says, has become integral to the success of the cafe. “I first worked with Damien 12 years ago and I trust his advice completely. I simply told him what I was doing and what I needed and he helped me turn what used to be a Japanese restaurant into a rustic Greek-style cafe.”

The refit took around three months and in that time, Tom was able to turn to Damien for the equipment including grills, char grills and toasters plus other must-have kitchen items. At times, Tom explained what he was considering installing and Damien provided advice that saved money and delivered better efficiency.

“Yes, Damien knows his product, for sure. He doesn’t just go for the sale. He tells us exactly what we need and I trust him. Sometimes the best solution is not the most expensive and Damien will always point us in the right direction.

Ironwood also purchased the chairs and tables for the restaurant and were again guided by Damien and his product knowledge. He selected items that would not only match the decor but be appropriate for the style of food that would be served.

The fit-out was not 100 per cent without problems. “We took delivery of some equipment but it didn’t fit,” Tom says, “but Damien sorted everything out quickly. In fact, I once had a problem at a previous restaurant where I called him and said I needed four or five microwaves urgently and would you know, Damien turned up himself with them that afternoon!”

When asked if he had shopped around among other suppliers, Tom was insistent. “I wouldn’t even consider it. I’m getting great service, always the right advice and I know that I’m getting the best product for my needs at the best price.”

About Ironwood Coffee Company/Cafe

At its heart, Ironwood is about extraordinary boutique coffee roasted by passionate people. The business only buys organic, fair trade coffee from small farms with a maximum of 4 to 6 acres. On any small farm, there will naturally be a prime spot with perhaps half a dozen trees that produce the finest of the beans thanks to variations in soil, rainfall or sun exposure. The Ironwood gents have a profound understanding of these conditions and know exactly where to find a coffee in response to niche consumer demand. “If someone wants to try a particular coffee from a particular country,” Tom says, “we can get it for them any time.” Customers can purchase exquisite, hand-roasted beans from Ironwood to take home and explore at their leisure.

In addition to fabulous coffee, Ironwood serves up vibrant Mediterranean dishes for breakfast, lunch and dinner and offers irresistible cakes and desserts throughout the day. A bustling, family-friendly environment that also caters to those seeking specialist coffee advice, Ironwood welcomes all who enjoy great food, superb coffee and a hearty welcome.