From the grounds up: Sky's the limit for this Inner-Sydney eatery
When it comes to Aussie landmarks, it's unlikely that you would think of a former pie factory in Sydney's inner-east. However, The Grounds of Alexandria is fast becoming an Australian icon in its own right having taking out fifth spot in Instagram's most tagged destinations - against the likes of Uluru, The Opera House, and Great Barrier Reef.
Quickly weaving itself into the fabric (and hearts) of inner-Sydney, The Grounds has developed a loyal cult-like following since first opening its doors in 2012, and has continued to entice hundreds of new and existing customers each and every week.
The initial concept of The Grounds was born from entrepreneurial duo Jack Hanna and Ramzey Choker who had a vision to turn the then industrial concrete car park into a thriving urban sanctuary, designed as a welcoming space to bring people together.
"We wanted to create a place where everyone gets together and stays, rather than just eating and leaving," Jack explained.
"In the early days, we started by just servicing the workers in the area. We had no idea it would turn into something so much bigger."
Built on the philosophy of creating experiences for communities through quality products, innovations and an ever-evolving vision, The Grounds houses a café, a bakery, a florist, markets, coffee roaster, and private function spaces all artfully designed to make you feel at home.
The Grounds exclusive selection of freshly baked bread.
Silver Chef Marketing and Sales Manager, Kevin Savvas, said part of The Grounds' enormous success has been their ability to create multiple-revenue streams and constantly evolve their offering.
"Multiple revenue streams are important in hospitality as food trends and technology are constantly changing," Kevin said.
"It means not putting all of your eggs in one basket, and creating a buffer that supports the cyclical nature of doing business. When one area of the business may start to under-perform, the other revenue streams or product offerings can help prop up the business."
Susie Leonard, Managing Director of Cater Shop, first met Ramzey back in 2005 when he owned Rocket, a chain of sandwich and juice bars, and has maintained a strong, close relationship since then.
When she heard about their plan of The Grounds and that their needs would be ever-changing as they grew and added new sections, she knew Silver Chef was the best option for the entrepreneurial pair.
"It's so important for us to take a holistic approach for our customers, and find the right fit for them. We provide so much more than just supplying equipment, it's a relationship.
"In order for The Grounds to grow and evolve their business, and keep their offering unique and interesting, Jack and Ramzey needed the flexibility to add new equipment easily and efficiently as they grew, without causing huge disruptions to their cash flow," Susie said.
"Silver Chef's Rent-Try-Buy® flexibility was an obvious choice."
Jack Hanna said working with Silver Chef has allowed them to constantly reinvent themselves without wasting money on depreciating assets every time they want to mix things up.
"We regularly look to upgrade our offering and Silver Chef's flexible Rent-Try-Buy product options have allowed us to do that," Jack said.
"It's also allowed us to free up some additional cash flow so we can focus on expanding the business and exploring our experiential side."
The Grounds entered new territory last year, decamping from their heritage-listed warehouse space to bring their wholesome food and quality coffee philosophy to Sculpture by the Sea, Bondi.
But this was no portable food truck. The team worked tirelessly to build a temporary tree-house café overlooking the coastline with a huge amount of attention to detail, such as grass specifically grown for its roof in the six months leading up to the install. The end result was something J.R.R. Tolkien's dreams are made of.
"As with everything we do at The Grounds, we wanted The Grounds by the Sea to be engaging and fun, with a focus on creating a memorable experience for every guest who passed through," he said.
"It enabled us to directly connect with the Eastern Suburbs community and engage face-to-face with residents. The positive response we received from the local community was absolutely overwhelming.
"We had over half a million people pass through our doors over the three-week exhibition, so you can imagine we really put our equipment to the test. Silver Chef supplied us with coffee and blending machines that stood up to the challenge."
Having hit it out of the park with the Sculpture pop-up, the Grounds team are keen to do more pop-ups in the future. So what can you expect to see from The Grounds this year?
"The sky is the limit for The Grounds. We have some new exciting projects happening later this year, so watch this space."