Toni-anne Sharpe and Fleur Yorston with one of the share plates on offer at Island Espresso in the Yamba Industrial Estate.
Toni-anne Sharpe and Fleur Yorston with one of the share plates on offer at Island Espresso in the Yamba Industrial Estate. Adam Hourigan Photography

NEW CAFE: Island Espresso an oasis of the arts

SURROUNDED by the grey metal of the Yamba Industrial Estate, the bohemian lifestyle store and gallery Island Collective is an oasis of the arts in the area.

For the past month, owner Fleur Yorston has enlisted the help of barista Toni-Anne Sharpe to open a small cafe - Island Espresso - within the gallery, and already the word is spreading.

"We've been putting it out there and it's spread by word of mouth," Yorston said. "Every week it's increasing and it's been quite overwhelming. People say they are wanting something a bit different in this area."

Fleur says her vision for the cafe space is the same as her art gallery, to give customers an experience they'll remember.

"People remember experiences, and here they weave their way through the plants and come into the open plan layout, and they say it reminds them of sitting in someone's home," she said. "They don't want to leave."

Toni-anne has been catering Fleur's gallery openings since it opened. Fleur said they had talked about creating the space for a few years, and now were looking at moving into catering for others.

"We've got three jobs booked already leading up to Christmas, and we really didn't have it out there except for a few flyers," she said.

"We want to have the same kind of style with simplicity, offering tapas and cocktail style food."

During the week, Toni offers a selection of sushi for which she is renowned for in the area, as well as paninis, weekly specials of Hawaiian/Asian influence and share plates for people to sample.

"So if a couple of friends want to meet for lunch, we can do a shared plate for them so they all get a selection," she said. "Already we've had quite a few businesses come in and hold meetings here."

Apart from the coffee, Toni creates frappes over ice, with flavours such as white chocolate and coconut and cream.

The cafe is open from 7am on weekdays, and Fleur said having the mix of business people, tradies and customers in through the gallery has created a different feel for the space.

"It's definitely brought people to see the art that wouldn't have necessarily come before, and it's great. Even in the middle of the industrial estate, everyone should be able to come in and discover something a bit different," she said.



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