Patissez in Manuka is probably the most famous café in Canberra, and maybe even one of the most famous in Australia, after receiving international media coverage in the last few weeks. Most of this attention is attributed to its freakshow milkshakes.
Small business success on this scale does not just happen. There is no luck involved. Anna Petridis (pictured above, right) and her family co-own Patissez with Ismael and Astrid Toorawa, however, it is Anna who is the face and driving force of Patissez. I wanted to pick her brain about all things business, social media, and deliciousness.
When I arrived at Patissez, I was greeted by Anna who had several smears of Nutella up her arms. Her long hair tied into a messy bun with a few streaks of white stuff which she later explained was rogue cream that escaped from the cream-spraying utensil when she was putting together one of her famous shakes.
The Petridis family previously owned a schoolwear business in Canberra which the family recently sold and decided to open up a café. The jump from a schoolwear business to a cafe is an unexpected one, and Anna says the idea stemmed from a casual conversation she had with her dad. She wanted to work in a job that she would always find interesting and could put her own creative ideas into. “I’ve always had an affinity with cooking,” Anna says, “and I’ve always been interested in business but I didn’t want to work in a typical business environment.”
At the tender age of just 26, Anna has made a name for herself as a huge success in the small business world. Patissez has been open for just over two months now and has already amassed almost 70,000 likes on their Facebook and Instagram profiles collectively. These are numbers that most cafes and small businesses would not even dream about. People are driving from interstate to visit this café, and are arriving at 6.00am to line up before doors open. The cafe has recently had to put a cap on the shakes with last orders taken by 1.30pm. Earlier this month they sold over 450 shakes in one day.
Anna said that when she was creating the Patissez menu, she wanted to have a menu item that was so over the top and so ridiculous that it grabbed people’s attention so first thing they do is take a photo and upload to social media.
“Every successful chef or cafe has something that they are known for, Adriano Zumbo is known for his amazing macarons and Dominique Ansel is known for inventing the cronut. We want to be known for our shakes,” she said.
Since the Patissez shakes went viral, Anna has had calls from all over the world. Radio requests from the UK, calls from Good Morning America, as well as plenty of enquiries for franchising opportunities. Anna cites the highlight of the Patissez journey so far as being their appearance on the Today show with Karl Stefanovic and Lisa Wilkinson sampling the shakes live on air.
While the requests for franchises and cafes overseas are incredibly encouraging and flattering, Anna says that the last thing they want to do is expand before they are ready. They do have a new cafe planned for Civic in the next few months and Anna is hoping the wait time will be a little less than the wait in Manuka.
“Our customers are great and 99 per cent of them understand that we literally only have room for about 30 people at any given time, but of course we’d love for people to be in straight away and not be waiting for two hours.”
Anna says that ultimately a business will succeed or fail dependent on its service. Her aim is to provide 10/10 service for all her customers. Every person who comments on their Facebook page gets a response, including those who complain.
“I think a good social media presence is very important for businesses. We have stuff ups, just like any other cafe, but if we disappoint someone and they leave a comment about it on Facebook, we owe it to them to apologise and offer an explanation.”
It is difficult to give a timeline of Anna’s day, as the hours are so skewed it is difficult to know where to begin. Patissez closes each day at 4.00pm.
Anna does the clean-up and heads home for a few hours rest. She returns to the store around 10.00pm, bakes and does shake prep (90 per cent of all the shake ingredients are prepared in-house) until around 3.00am when she heads home for another few hours rest and then returns back to the café to open up at 7.00am.
“I’ve never been so exhausted in my life, but this is the happiest I have ever been.”