There’s a new cowboy cafe in town!
Few meals truly hit the spot like a fresh, gooey toasted sandwich and a well-made coffee. Slinging exceptional brews and toasties that will have you re-thinking the Aussie staple, Prahran’s newest cafe, Head Honcho, is out to prove just that. Sitting in a secluded spot just off Chapel Street, you’ll find the small, yet ambitious Western cowboy-themed venue, with an undeniable determination to evoke positive change in their local community.
Head Honcho is the brainchild of James ‘Chooka’ Pettenon and Fintan Redmond; two hospitality young guns with a passionate focus on their product, the community, and the positive effect they can have along the supply chain. Frustrated by the apathetic attitude of many in the industry, unethical shortcuts taken in the pursuit of financial gain, and a general sentiment that “the Melbourne cafe scene has settled into a status quo of mediocre, uninspired offerings served with little pride”, Pettenon and Remond decided to show their peers how to do better. The result: an ambitious cafe proudly serving simple, yet exceptional food and coffee, with an unequivocal ethical, community and sustainability focus.
Inspired by their passion for cowboy culture and the courage of outlaws to deviate from the norm, the team have integrated a Western theme throughout the entire venue – emanating real character to Prahran’s hidden gem. The name ‘Head Honcho’ itself, is not only a tribute to the Wild West, but also a reference to the venue’s motivation to act as trail-blazers and set an example for the wider hospitality community.
At Head Honcho, you’ll witness a dedication to artful coffee-making, encapsulated in their motto “Good Coffee, Made Right.” The team proudly serves ethically-sourced and expertly roasted beans from Rumble Coffee Roasters, with milk from inner-Melbourne’s only micro-dairy, St David Dairy. Of course, plant milks are also available from Happy Happy Soy Boy, Oatly, or Milk Lab.
Keeping in line with the intimate nature of the cafe, the food offering consists of seven toasted sandwich creations. Although the selection may be limited, these are far from your average corner-store sandwich. The pair explains, “we’re big believers of doing it simple and doing it right.” For cheese lovers, wrap your hands around the ‘Greenhorn’ – a moreish, three-cheese trifecta stuffed with Swiss Gruyere, Australian Mozzarella and Cheddar. If you’re feeling more adventurous, you can’t go past the ‘Vaquero’, a Tex-Mex inspired toastie filled with black beans, avocado, smoked scamorza, jalapenos, red onion, tomato puree and – the star of the sandwich – crunchy, spiced corn from Savour & Grace. For those with a sweet tooth, delight your senses with the ‘Cowprint,’ which oozes a decadent, gooey choc-hazelnut and white chocolate filling. Whilst the fillings are impressive, the milk loaf from STREAT bakery perfects each toastie, adding the perfect crunch to every bite. Dietary requirements are made easy at Head Honcho, with several vegan and gluten-free options available. The gluten free alternatives use the delicious quinoa loaf from Strada Bakery, whilst the vegan options use the STREAT sourdough, packed with vegan cheese from Green Vie and Cheezley.
The team also takes pride in their strong relationships with suppliers, meticulously selecting those with values that align with their own. Each supplier not only takes extreme pride in the quality of their product, but where possible, will go out of their way to do emphasise socio-economic and environmental responsibility. Whether it’s through Rumble’s transparency project, STREAT’s youth programs or St David’s various social and sustainable endeavours, Head Honcho works closely with their suppliers to inspire positive change in the world around them. When speaking on sustainability, Pettenon and Remond “define it as a way for us to maintain every aspect of the business in a social, economical, political and environmental way. Cafe and venue owners around Australia have an incredible power, as we are the direct line from the consumer. We can cause positive change up the supply chain by listening to what the consumer is asking for.” By embedding ethical and sustainable practices more deeply into their procurement process, Head Honcho is able to create lasting impact on their local and global community.
Designed by Pettenon, the cosy, modern interior is lined with western-themed prints, upcycled mirrors and greenery. The warm tones and quirky decor exudes a welcoming, big-kid innocence, creating the perfect ambiance to enjoy the classic coffee and toastie double-act. Overlooking the brightly painted alleyway, a custom designed wooden bench from Miles Taylor stretches the length of the venue and is fitted with an abundance of powerpoints – providing the perfect communal space to work. But it’s the friendly warmth of the staff that exacerbates the homely environment, keeping their customers coming back time after time. Head Honcho prides themself on creating genuine connections with each one of their valued customers, so much so that, on a regular morning, almost no one has to tell the team their coffee order.
With their unquestionable commitment to customer centricity and community support in all aspects of their business, Head Honcho is the fresh breath of air the Melbourne cafe scene needed. The venue nails the true essence of Melbourne cafe culture; honest food, quality coffee and genuine hospitality. Whether you’re looking for a quick bite to eat, a delicious cuppa joe or even just a friendly chat, you will undoubtedly leave Head Honcho with a smile on your face and a real sense of community spirit.
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