Hunters’ Roots was born from an idea for a place to find healthy, wholesome and fresh foods. Husband-and-wife team Kerry and Jeff opened the doors in early 2015 as their first foray into Melbourne’s cafe scene. Now they spend five days a week together serving fresh organic juices, smoothies and salads. We sat down with them to hear about their first half-year running a small business, the organic movement, and why they’re not looking back.
What you were both doing before Hunters’ Roots?
Jeff: Both of us have done a complete 180 from what we envisioned as our career paths back in uni days! I studied human resources before discovering my real passion for health and fitness. During this time I also worked at another cafe and in health product retail.
Kerry: Meanwhile I’d completed a degree in architecture, but it wasn’t something I could see myself waking up and feeling excited about for the rest of my life! My passion for what we do now started because I was seeing a naturopath for an autoimmune illness I’ve had for many years, who got me really excited about healthy eating and nourishing the body from the inside out.
Why is organic product important to your business? How does this help differentiate you?
It’s very important for us to provide our customers with a seasonally driven menu that features the freshest produce available. A lot of the time this means that organic is the best way to go. For many smaller local growers and producers, however, having the organic certification isn’t always necessarily a viable business option. So we always like to keep an eye out for suppliers with a fantastic sustainable product that fits our ethos. Having lived and worked in Melbourne’s CBD for many years ourselves, we have always found it quite difficult to find a decent smoothie or fresh salad. We think that it is definitely about time this city has a whole-foods cafe like Hunters’ Roots!
What’s your most popular item on the menu?
Without a doubt our Dragonfruit Smoothie Bowl is the most photogenic item on our menu (which is probably why it’s the most popular!) An amazing naturally neon-pink smoothie base (thanks to the pink dragonfruit blended with banana, berries, coconut milk and coconut yoghurt) is topped with our housemade buckini granola, cacao nibs, coconut flakes and fresh fruits.
What did you focus on in the beginning to help things run smoothly?
With just the two of us running the place, we aim to have systems set in place to operate the shop more efficiently for our day-to-day tasks. It’s also important that we are able to provide our customers with consistently friendly service on a daily basis. This made it much easier for us to get to know our regulars, and nothing makes us happier than a customer leaving our cafe with a satisfied smile on their face.
What’s your tip to help others starting their own small business take the first step?
We had a pretty good idea and clear picture what we wanted to do with Hunters’ Roots, but there were definitely many other aspects to starting a business that we needed help with. We unashamedly called in lots of favours from friends and family who have expertise and experience in areas ranging from contract negotiation and accounting to sales and marketing — all the not-so-fun bits of starting a business that are still very important to ensure we covered all the bases before we signed on the dotted lines.
Tell us how you’re using technology to help streamline your workflow?
For people who aren’t as tech-savvy, like us, having the right technology on board for our business has made it so much easier to stay on top of all our sales and product data. Square Register is incredibly easy to use — at the push of a button we get access to figures and analytics that really matter in helping us manage our workflow. This leaves us with more time to focus on serving our customers and thinking up our next menu.
What gets you out of bed in the morning to come back to the cafe?
Our passion for healthy eating — but one of the biggest reasons for setting up Hunters’ Roots is also because we want to work together. The days are long and it’s not going to be easy, but we are finally doing something we have always only dreamed of!
Hunters’ Roots is located at 26 Katherine Place, Melbourne CBD. Thank you to Itsuka Studio for supplying photography for this article.