A café by day, and a wine bar by night for Rhodes

Rhodes’ newest eatery, Chambers Café, is a hip new destination for anyone craving a local café with an inner city vibe.

Owned by husband and wife Shawn Ren and Louise Fen, the café features a soaring 4.7 metre ceiling making the area feel airy and spacious.

“We wanted to create an urban, industrial feel and so we’ve left many of the building’s raw elements on show,” said Shawn. “You can see the builder’s pencil marks on the walls, and we’ve matched some of our paint colours to the concrete walls.”

A choice of seating options is on offer including outdoor tables, and a lounge area, banquette seating and booths inside.

“We designed the different seating styles to appeal to residents as well as the many business people who work in the area,” said Shawn. “That’s why we’ve included a wine bar as part of our offering so people are welcome to pop in for a drink after work or with dinner.”

Rhodes is located in Sydney’s inner west. The suburb has undergone a massive transformation in recent years, and today is populated with many apartments, office buildings and a large shopping centre. Chambers Café is located at the base of Pinnacle Apartments, a 25 storey apartment building that was completed in November 2013.

“We were keen to establish our café in Rhodes after getting to know the area through our friends who live here,” said Shawn. “It’s a growing area and we saw a gap in the market for a venue that combines a café and wine bar.”

Shawn has an extensive background in running cafés, and Chambers Café is the first of his own. Louise’s background as a graphic designer is clearly on show in the café’s stylish logo and the many inspired visual touches on display.

Chambers Café wine list is sourced from vineyards throughout Australia and New Zealand. The house white is Hartogs Plate Sauvignon Blanc from Western Australia and the house red is from Penfolds Koonunga Hill Vintage Style. Local and imported beers include Crown Lager and Peroni.

Skillco completed the carpentry and joinery required in the fitout. This included wall shelving, benches around pillars, banquette seating and the booths.

Shawn also drew on Caféideas to supply a range of furniture and equipment for Chambers Café. This included stools, table tops, table bases, a glasswasher, undercounter fridge, bench chillers, counter top fryer, blender, food display cabinet, ice machine, hot plate, contact grills, microwave oven and induction cooker.

“I first heard of Caféideas at a tradeshow I went to about six years ago,” said Shawn. “In the years since, I’ve used Caféideas quite frequently, and so I approached Damien when it came time for me to buy for Chambers Café.”

Shawn appreciated Damien’s insights into kitchen floorplans when he was designing his café.

“Damien made several suggestions that improved how efficiently we are able to use our kitchen and saved us space,” he said. “Damien knows what he’s doing and whenever I ask for anything, he always gets onto it quickly and also keeps me well informed.”

Chambers Café has developed its own range of single origin, house blend and decaffeinated roasted coffee beans. Tea drinking is a real experience with its range of handcrafted ‘blooming teas’.

“Our blooming teas from iTea in Wollongong are a real talking point,” said Shawn. “They start as tea buds that gently bloom into ‘flowers’ when placed in hot water, and they look fantastic in our glass tea pots. They reflect an ancient Chinese art of hand-sewing premium tea leaves, and you get to enjoy the delicate taste of white tea infused with herbs.”

Chambers Café is located below Pinnacle Apartments at Shop 10, 7 Rider Boulevard, Rhodes.   It is licensed and opens 7 days, from 6.30am to 10.30pm.