Music themed café struggles to find its beat

It’s a family affair! Owner Dave Howard and his children outside the café

A new music-themed café on the Peninsula has fallen out of tune after “one chaos story after another” rocked the business hard last year.

The Say When Café in Woy Woy’s Chambers Place originally opened last July once COVID-19 health restrictions had eased … just days before the Victoria-NSW border was closed on July 6.

But after a series of events, from a delayed opening, to back surgery and then the COVID-19 lockdown, owner Dave Howard says the team just “can’t seem to get a break”.

“To say that things are tough is an understatement, but we have to keep going as best we can,” Howard said.

“It’s a real tough market – I talk to all my suppliers and people in the area and everybody is doing it tough as you’re so dependent on people travelling.

“There are no commuters, there’s no visitors and people have got a lack of money.

“Personally, I don’t think we have seen the wave of pain yet – I think it’s about to start hitting.”

Howard said the café had originally had big plans with its location in Chambers Place, hoping to attract spectators from Woy Woy football stadium.

But due to COVID-19 health directives, attendance at games has drastically fallen.

Howard said that as the business had not operated in the 2019/20 year, Howard and staff were not able to access any government support or grants.

“We’re here trying to create local jobs, add value to the local community, restore a building that has been empty for four years, but we can’t get any support,” he said.

“Job keeper was stopped as soon as we started trading because as soon as we opened the doors and sold one cup of coffee, we actually showed an increase in revenue.

“We were estimating that on a bad day we would do all our morning revenue by about 10am when people would come into the area, commuters getting to their businesses.

“Some days we’re lucky to do $12 – that’s three coffees.

“So, getting staff, attracting staff or even taking a wage is nearly impossible.”

Howard said the café tries to make as many items in house as possible, with local suppliers coming from Edwards Butchers, Juices from East Coast, Alternative Dairy Co, and Six String Brewery.

Say When Café is also currently employing a local artist to paint roof signage – a 747 hybrid of the Iron Maidens plane.

The plane is aimed at creating a local tourist attraction for the area.

The café also hosts mini markets with the next one to be held on Saturday, January 16, from 8am.

Visitors can expect stalls ranging from plants and gardening, to vintage gear, stickers and handcrafted soy candles.

Food will also be on offer to patrons throughout the day.

Maisy Rae