✦ January 2024 will mark 3 years that A Classy Cafe has been under the loving ownership of the Torrisi family - and not a day has passed during that time that they have not thoroughly enjoyed what they do. Leigh and Beth head up the family team, with children Brocky, Kaitlyn, Ashton and Zeke all involved in some way in the business on a day-to-day basis.
The Torrisi family pride themselves in providing an exceptional service of their specialty blended and roasted coffee beans alongside their delicious house-made fresh bakes and homestyle cooking that the entire family is guaranteed to enjoy!
Leigh is a local boy, having worked at A Classy Cafe with the previous owners for many years. When the opportunity came up to buy the business, Leigh and Beth had no hesitation.
The opportunity to see their family working together was taken and then COVID hit. However, proving to be tough in the face of adversity, they battled on and have grown the business since into a thriving coffee house that provides delicious food that locals and visitors alike keep coming back for. A Classy Cafe is the 'go to' in Wauchope if you want coffee voted the “Best on the Mid North Coast of NSW”, delicious home cooked meals, gorgeous cakes, desserts, smoothies, milkshakes and first rate service.
What does it mean to be a family business?
“I'm able to give our children and our family different opportunities than we would have been able to have had previously," Beth told us. "I didn't grow up with a lot of opportunities, I have worked pretty hard throughout my life to give our kids every opportunity that we possibly can.”
Working in the business as a family has instilled Beth’s values in her children while teaching them lots of important life skills. It has allowed them to grow in all areas of their lives, not just working but also in their personal lives. Working together has helped form a strong, close family unit.
“The things that mean the most to me, in a family run and operated business, would be the freedom to do the simple things that a father doesn't always, typically get to do in regards to school runs, award ceremonies, sport days on the weekends and just the general time spent at home where mum usually dominates that space," Leigh explained.
"It's nice to develop the nurturing space outside of work. Having a family run business gives me 10 extra stat points of life to play with as opposed to working for someone else.”
A typical day at A Classy Cafe
Beth and Brocky usually open at 6:30am and start baking their freshly homemade treats and set up the kitchen, fill up the fridges and work on the displays. Around 8:00am, Leigh arrives with the younger siblings, they have breakfast and then get the kids off to school before smashing into their busiest time of the day.
Leigh is essentially in charge of the front of house. With the coffees he is the head barista, customer service manager along with training all the staff. Leigh is also known around the cafe as “the maintenance guy”.
Beth is more involved with HR, policies, procedures and processes, making sure that the business is running compliant to all health and hygiene standards and codes, along with the handling the accounts. She does all the POS adjustments and the websites and Apps development. In the kitchen she takes care of hiring staff, training and menu planning.
Brocky is the apprentice chef, coming to the end of his first year. Starting off as a front of house team member, learning the ropes and the customers, but then expressed an interest in wanting to go into the kitchen to start his career as a chef. He has always had the desire to do so, he enjoyed cooking with mum at home as a youngster as well as at school, he is interested in developing his skill and knowledge in sports and athlete nutrition.
16 year old Kaitlyn loves to bake! Upon completing her Year 10 Certificate last year, she has stepped straight into the workforce at the Cafe. Specialising in baking everything she does is of a very high standard and quality, not only her baking, but her barista skills are top shelf. Kaitlyn is involved in the production of the beautiful cake bar full of scrumptious cakes, slices and pastries.
Adding to Kaitlyn’s cooking selection are the group of local ladies affectionately known by the Torrisis as “The Aunties’, their surrogate family members.
Ashton will be 9 in January and is a big helper. He wakes up early most mornings, helps set up the cafe, takes the chairs out and helps fill up the napkin and sugar holders. He earns his $5 pocket money for the week by doing a few little jobs before school in the mornings.
Ashton then makes his own lunch, does some home readers and if he’s lucky enough to have the time, watch a little YouTube.
Then there’s 2 and a half year old Ezekiel, born into the role just three months into the family taking over the business, he is the Cafe Ambassador, he has had no choice, but has embraced it.
He wants to be involved, wants to be busy, he is a worker, it has been instilled in him from a young age and he really enjoys it.
Beth told us, “ If he's not at daycare, and both of us need to be at work, he's here with us. He will have his own little crate and make his own little teas and coffees or he'll put his crate over next to Dad and help. Imaginary play alongside us.”
The first 12 months of his life Zeke was raised in the cafe, a nursery was set up in the office, Beth could watch over him from her position in the kitchen and Leigh from his position from the coffee machine. Busy cafe life became his routine.
Having a business in the hospitality sector and raising a family can be a little bit hectic, but the Torrisi's have embraced the challenge and feel they are so better off for it.
“We've been able to share the parent role really well, because we've both been on the floor together with Zeke here," Leigh explained. “In a way it’s been a big advantage, we didn’t have to send him to daycare to try to work and have an income. He was able to stay with mum and dad, which is what we really both really want and was important to both of us.”
Communication is the key
Leigh admitted that a family business does sometimes have its challenges, lots of challenges. But he thinks communication is key. “As long as there's good communication and knowing that for every problem there is a solution, the business will run smoothly.”
He explained that operating a family business can make things a little more stressful as your work life is incorporated into your home life. No two ways about it. If you work for someone else from 9 to 5 for example, when you knock off for the day you shut the door and go home, deal with any issues the next day. Work for yourselves, together, and often issues come home, so you're forced to sort them out, sometimes things are tense, but it has allowed them to deepen their communication.
“Working together in our family business has definitely made us a hell of a lot closer,” said Leigh smiling. “ We've learned a lot more about each other. For example, when you are not working together, you don’t know each other's workload, and don't know when each other works best. We now know a different side of each other having worked together.”
Being together makes each day better
The simplicity of having each other together every day, working together in the business and for their family, makes each day better.
“I always compare myself to working for someone previously to now. There wasn't much room to move as a bloke if the kids were sick at daycare or school. But nowadays, we have that choice. One of us can deal with the kids if needed, the other stays at work,” Leigh told us.
Each family member is an individual and all add to the business in their own way; Beth brings a very high standard and procedure organisation. Brocky brings a level of enthusiasm, a fresh mind and a very coachable attitude in the way that they can graft him into being the best he can be.
Kaitlyn comes with natural abilities, if she decides that she wants to do something you can bet that it's going to be a high standard to the best of her abilities. Ashton brings charm. Everybody loves Ashton, especially the customers. He has the ability to have a somewhat mature conversation beyond his years, he can hold his own in conversations with customers on a general day to day basis.
Then there’s Zekey, he’s a little worker. Customers love seeing Zeke, after all a lot have seen him grow from seven 7 days old. Thousands of people in the area have physically watched him grow
from a babe to a toddler.
“ Having our children, these beautiful kids and young adults in the workplace enforces that we are a family business that has grown and will continue to grow closer and stronger because of it.” said Leigh.
Where will the Torrisis be in 5 years?
Leigh told us that he would like to think that they would still have the business A Classy Cafe, plus another one potentially where the elder children, Brocky and Kaitlyn are working together and expanding on the skills instilled in them by their parents.
“By then they will be more mature and ready to take on the opportunity to have a leadership role and run their own place, with Beth and my guidance and management.”
Watch this space, a new, fresh restaurant may be on the horizon!
A Classy Cafe & Espresso Bar
70 Cameron Street, WAUCHOPE
Ph: 65 56 0593
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