WHEN Natalia Soares Carter left her native Brazil for Australia to improve her English, getting married and opening a business was not on her agenda.
Life had other plans, but before they got in the way, she worked in hospitality and as a barista in Sydney.
“My English was poor and I was in the kitchen and in hospitality even though I have a bachelor in public relations and did my masters in marketing,” she says.
When she met her partner Ryan Carter, a graphic designer with a lifelong love of hot rods, she relocated to the Central Coast before the pair wed and moved to Newcastle.
Soon Mrs Soares Carter found her feet as a digital account manager role at local firm Sticky, while her husband opened up United Speed Shop in Georgetown, building and repairing pre 1970s vintage cars.
But after two years doing what she knows best, Natalia joined Ryan in refurbing and converting his dad’s old trailer into a mobile cafe located in the carpark at the back of the business.
“It’s always been Ryan’s plan to combine hot rods and coffee and entertainment because he thinks cars should be viewed with friends and they are a way to get friends together – that’s why the business is called United Speed Shop,” she explains.
And while she loved her old “office job”, she’s loving her new one a whole lot.
“Here I can combine my passion of good food, coffee and marketing, it makes me feel really acomplished and seeing the business growing so quick has been great,” she says.
Since opening a month ago, the United Speed Shop cafe has grown a loyal crowd of clients who stop in for take-away service from 7.30am to 11.30am during the week, and to dine-in between 8am and 12 noon on Saturdays.
Natalia says Brazilians are quite fussy about their coffee and she and Ryan decided to source their beans from newish Newcastle business Cherry Seed Roasters. There are also teas and milkshakes.
“It has a strong but smooth flavour and we like supporting local business,” she says.
To graze on there are fresh pastries, Portughese tarts, raw slices and Brazilian cheese bread.
“It is gluten free and made with cassava flour, it’s made from scratch using my mother’s recipe,” she says.
As the weather warms, the typical Brazilian dish of Acai bowls will be added to the menu.
“It’s made up of the acai fruit which is frozen and blended with guarana syrup and the consistency is almost like a soft-serve ice-cream, then you add granola and pieces of bananas and any fruit you like,” she says.
Mr Carter is thrilled to have finally achieved an idea that’s been on the boil for years: “It’s been really good.”