European style cafe for Birkenhead Point
Cicco Chocolaterie's franchisor Samuel Han had an interesting entry into the cafe scene.
“I grew up in Korea and travelled to Chicago to study for a science degree there,” he said. “I worked at a local pizza restaurant, and the Italian owner would insist I finish my shift with a coffee each night. That was my first exposure to coffee and I soon grew to really love it.”
A stint working in Melbourne in the 1990s introduced Han to the vibrant cafe culture that exists there. “I remember going to a cafe called Aromas in the now defunct Daimaru department store, and being really impressed by the beautiful coffee and all the delicious flavours and aromas. It got me thinking that a similar concept would work well in Sydney, where there were not so many cool cafes back then.”
Han launched his first store, Cafe Cicco Bar at Chatswood Chase in 1996, modelled on a boutique, Italian style cafe concept.
His idea of a beautifully appointed cafe offering premium quality coffee and other refreshments proved popular, and in the ensuing years, six other Cicco Bar cafes have opened in Sydney.
“I am always looking out for new ways to improve my customer's experience,” said Han. “My market was telling me that quality chocolates were something they were interested in, and so I am now branching into a new concept – Cicco Chocolaterie.”
The first of the new stores opened in Chatswood Chase in 2009, and the second in the recently revamped Birkenhead Point at Drummoyne in September, 2010.
“We're really thrilled with how the new shop has turned out,” said Han. “We've created a high quality fitout and offer the finest coffee and European chocolates, delicious snacks and meals and more. My aim is to offer my customers a similar experience to what they would have in a cafe located within a five star hotel.”
Cicco Chocolaterie overlooks Cockatoo Island and Sydney Harbour. Its sparkling chandeliers and gleaming display cabinet featuring exquisite chocolates imported from Belgium and France give an indication of the luxury experience that awaits within.
“What we've tried to create is a warm and welcoming place that offers the whole package: a beautifully appointed space, fantastic coffee, delicious chocolate and other food and beverages, friendly service, upbeat jazz music and sensational views,” said Han. “In doing so, I believe we have created a wonderful sense of ambience here.”
Han sourced his cafe furniture and many pieces of catering equipment including Baron gas oven range and grill, Roller Grill deep fryer, high speed grill and double deck open toaster, Hobart under-counter dishwasher, Scotsman icemaker and Skope commercial fridge from Cafeideas.
“The great thing about Cafeideas is that they offer a huge range of products and they can source what we need really quickly,” said Han. “I've found that they offer the designer looks and durability I'm after, but at a commercially realistic price.”
Han is currently working on a third Cicco Chocolaterie in Sydney's Broadway and will use Cafeideas once again for many of his furniture and equipment requirements.
“Cafeideas has looked after me well over the years,” said Han. “They customise their products to match what I need and their service is outstanding.”
Han has come a long way from his first taste of coffee back in Chicago. “I really love coffee and it has become my life,” he says. “I am passionate about creating a European style cafe experience for all of the customers of the Cicco brand."