Kerin and Troy Pond are the new kids on the block at Hunter Street Mall in inner-city Newcastle.
They have taken over Cazador, renamed it Charca (Spanish for “pond”) and hope it will become a hub for city workers, residents, visitors and families. They’re not picky.
What they are particular about, though, is their menu. And their coffee.
The parents of “two beautiful daughters” have hospitality experience – Kerin ran a cafe in Forster with her mother and Troy has “extensive experience on the licensed side with pubs and clubs”.
Both share a desire to be involved in the growth of Newcastle.
“We love the people, atmosphere and friendly nature of the locals that you can’t find anywhere else,” Kerin Pond told Food and Wine.
“We have renamed and rebranded our cafe to become a family-friendly, easygoing venue with a focus on simple foods made great with fresh ingredients.
“We have developed a whole new menu, from freshly-ground beef burgers and vegie burgers to specials like prawn linguine while maintaining some old favorites like arancini balls and paninis, which we now do our way.”
Jake Cooke is in charge of the kitchen and a menu that the Ponds describe as “old school”.
“We have some things in our menu that were popular when we were kids but fell by the wayside with the growth of kale and quinoa – things like spiders and milkshakes in steel containers,” Pond explained.
“We offer waffles and pancakes and steak sangers too but still do things like acai bowls and french toast. We want to be a place where you can come and enjoy a nice breakfast or lunch in an inclusive environment without it costing the earth.
“We also believe that flexibility is the key. If we don’t have something you want, just ask. If you want your meal done a different way, we will do our best to accommodate that request.”
Customer feedback has, she says, been positive: “We are the only place in Newcastle that uses Doppio or Nothing coffee from Port Macquarie, which customers are loving.”
Charca is open 9am until 5pm on weekdays (except Monday). Breakfast is served from 7.30am on Saturdays and 8am on Sundays. Dinner service will begin on May 26, with a wine and cocktail bar.