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Local leaders – Anna Petridis (Patissez)

By Alexandra Craig 29 July 2015 28

anna petridis patissez

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.”

(Photo: Facebook)

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Local leaders – Anna Petridis (Patissez)
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Ezy 5:53 pm 12 Aug 15

One thing that irks me about these guys is their arrogance in thinking that they were the first with this idea of an over the top ‘gourmet’ milkshake… there has even been talk about copyrighting them. How can you copyright/patent a milkshake? Its would be like trying to copywrite eggs benedict. Have a look at these guys in Sydney (the Vogue Cafe), they certainly put a bit more care into them as well. Even Fox and Bow had their version in Canberra before them, although a little more restrained with portion size.

https://instagram.com/thevoguecafemq

What is even more disturbing, is one of the owners appeared in a canberra school giving talks to kids. Thats a huge backward step for teaching these guys about healthy eating.

Alexandra Craig 8:19 am 31 Jul 15

bd84 said :

I don’t think owning a local business makes one a leader. Judging by the recent article on a certain national news website that I believe was indirectly about her, she may need to sort some skeletons in the closet before becoming a leader.

Rollersk8r said :

Keen to know where they’re opening in Civic!!?? .

I saw in one article it would be on Marcus Clarke Street. There’s only about 2 places that it could fit which are vacant. I’ll put my money on the empty former cafe in the St George building between Psychedeli and Courgette.

It’s not just about owning a business. It’s about achieving worldwide attention before your business is two months old. Not many people can say they’ve done that.

Don’t believe everything you read in the mainstream media.

bd84 9:05 pm 30 Jul 15

I don’t think owning a local business makes one a leader. Judging by the recent article on a certain national news website that I believe was indirectly about her, she may need to sort some skeletons in the closet before becoming a leader.

Rollersk8r said :

Keen to know where they’re opening in Civic!!?? .

I saw in one article it would be on Marcus Clarke Street. There’s only about 2 places that it could fit which are vacant. I’ll put my money on the empty former cafe in the St George building between Psychedeli and Courgette.

Nomnom 7:15 pm 30 Jul 15

Wow! Young people doing well! Successful and passionate about their work, I think this is an excellent example of young people working hard and achieving their dreams, good for you Anna!

Alexandra Craig 11:38 am 30 Jul 15

vintage123 said :

Those work hours are commendable. It does show that she is having a go by doing the work herself and not just farming out the odd hours to a staff member. I hope it does well and they maintain high standards and keep current with trend. Best of luck.

Alexandra, what’s the best time to go there for a shake, and do they take on line orders (like dominos), where you can order a shake then watch its progress then flyby and pick up no hassle. Maybe something to think about.

Anyway I am going to do the hype thing and go and try one as a treat.

What’s the best shake?

I believe they are cutting off shake orders at 1.30pm now. I think if you’re not super keen to get there early and wait around it’s probably worth hanging in there for the Civic store. Anna said it would be bigger than the Manuka store (which only has about 10 tables) so the wait won’t be as long. However, if you’re an early bird, they open at 7.00am so if you arrive at 6.30am you should be in pretty quickly!

Ezy said :

Amy Birchall said :

Ezy said :

Quick question – are these local leader profiles paid editorials?

Hey Ezy, no, the local leaders profiles aren’t paid advertorials. We do run advertorials on the site (never as local leaders though), and they’re tagged as an advertising feature at the bottom of the piece.

The local leaders are almost always people I’ve met (or in this case, that Alexandra has met) and think they’d be interesting to profile.

Gotchya, I knew that some articles are paid editorials – just wasn’t sure if this was one of them. Thanks for letting me know.

Maybe I should have demanded payment in shakes! ?

nsee said :

In hindsight, I guess my comment had a fair bit of propensity to be rude, so I’ve decided to edit it – taking the snide remarks etc. I do think that the conversation about food wastage and vain social network/hype is one that needs to be had in relation with Patissez though..

We should not be celebrating these ‘freakshakes’ as a show of local excellence. It’s great that such a young purveyor is doing well in their small business but as far as i’m concerned, this cafe represents a lot of what is wrong with the way we consume as a society.

No one should be having a milkshake with 3/4 of a jar of Nutella in it (before all the other accoutrements!). I mean besides all the health issues you’re looking at, it’s so incredibly wasteful and is contributing on a hyperscale to the issues the whole world is facing with dwindling food supplies, scarcity of resources etc. We shouldn’t be consuming this much of anything for any reason – so much of our food is already so over processed and unnecessary, why are we encouraging and praising this kind of thing?

I have so many issues with this cafe and could go on for a while – but that’s a conversation that would become unnecessarily rude and hateful, so I won’t. But – yeah, working long hours is great, but having a mantra that revolves around having “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” is rather vain and shallow, isn’t it?

Open a business that contributes to the community positively – that gives your customers happiness, a great product for their money, along with great service. Address your customers personably in store – weren’t we all talking about how cold and anonymous communicating exclusively via the internet was a few years ago?

I can only imagine how miserable it must be to stand in a line for hours waiting for a freakshake, being herded through like sheep and then clogging up my arteries just so that they can be happy about the amount of coverage they’re getting on Instagram. There’s seriously more you can bring to the community (or even gain from the community) as a small business or cafe.

I do wish Patissez great success post-freakshake, and hope they can form a strong presence without the shakes in the future.

I think their mantra revolves around more than just the shakes. The shakes was a way to get their brand out there and get people into the café – and it worked very well.

One thing I didn’t talk about in the article (because it would have been too long), is that Anna did say they are big on customer service in-store, as well as social media. I can personally vouch for this. Before Patissez was famous, I went in there for breakfast. We waited a loooong time. When it was finally our turn for a table, we were told the wait for meals was a little longer than we had expected. I was a bit cranky because I’d already waited for ages, but we got a genuine apology from Anna and a free pastry each for our troubles. Way better customer service than I’ve had at most places. This was probably a week after they had opened.

Patissez has only been open for about two months. They are brand new and there is a lot more time for them to bring good to the community. Anna spoke about wanting to give her staff the opportunity to work in an environment they love but also one that they can put their creativity and passion into, while learning all sorts of new things every day about business and cooking.

As for customres being miserable – Patissez don’t make people line up for hours, or make them order a shake, or make them put it on social media. The several times I’ve been there, people are genuinely excited to be lining up to get a shake. People are driving down from Sydney and they’re not doing it so Patissez can be happy about coverage on Instagram. They’re doing it because they think it’s something new and fun.

gazer 11:23 am 30 Jul 15

Ezy said :

Being a ‘local leader’ for creating such massive over the top milkshakes doesn’t really sit well with me.

I know I am going to get flamed for this, but to me – these things represent why Australia is very close to becoming the most obese country in the World. I work just around the corner and during the school holidays – I saw so many parents lining up with their kids for hours for these over the top, sugar and kilojoule heavy offerings.

These kids should be out in a park running around with friends, laughing and enjoying our beautiful winter days. Instead they are sitting/standing and waiting anxiously for their milkshake to be ready. Just so their parents can whack a picture of these things up on Instagram? What sort of example is this setting for them?

I just don’t get it.

Massive over the top milkshakes > Haterade

vintage123 10:45 am 30 Jul 15

nsee said :

In hindsight, I guess my comment had a fair bit of propensity to be rude, so I’ve decided to edit it – taking the snide remarks etc. I do think that the conversation about food wastage and vain social network/hype is one that needs to be had in relation with Patissez though..

We should not be celebrating these ‘freakshakes’ as a show of local excellence. It’s great that such a young purveyor is doing well in their small business but as far as i’m concerned, this cafe represents a lot of what is wrong with the way we consume as a society.

No one should be having a milkshake with 3/4 of a jar of Nutella in it (before all the other accoutrements!). I mean besides all the health issues you’re looking at, it’s so incredibly wasteful and is contributing on a hyperscale to the issues the whole world is facing with dwindling food supplies, scarcity of resources etc. We shouldn’t be consuming this much of anything for any reason – so much of our food is already so over processed and unnecessary, why are we encouraging and praising this kind of thing?

I have so many issues with this cafe and could go on for a while – but that’s a conversation that would become unnecessarily rude and hateful, so I won’t. But – yeah, working long hours is great, but having a mantra that revolves around having “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” is rather vain and shallow, isn’t it?

Open a business that contributes to the community positively – that gives your customers happiness, a great product for their money, along with great service. Address your customers personably in store – weren’t we all talking about how cold and anonymous communicating exclusively via the internet was a few years ago?

I can only imagine how miserable it must be to stand in a line for hours waiting for a freakshake, being herded through like sheep and then clogging up my arteries just so that they can be happy about the amount of coverage they’re getting on Instagram. There’s seriously more you can bring to the community (or even gain from the community) as a small business or cafe.

I do wish Patissez great success post-freakshake, and hope they can form a strong presence without the shakes in the future.

Gee whiz. Take it easy. It’s just a young business person having a go by providing something different in the cafe space. Retail, hospitality and cafe services are a tough gig.

It’s really hard, often low paid and constant pressure, high standards are required, agreements with suppliers can be difficult, retail tenancy is challenging, and then there’s marketing, staff management, advertising, insurance, training etc.

I mean you don’t have to indulge everyday, but surely this is a good thing for the occasional indulgence.

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