Where: Shed 2 Gore Place, Geelong
When: Mon – Fri 7.30 to 4
0423 224 808
As readers of Oh! Hello Geelong may well know, we are two long time tea devotees who love nothing more than sipping perfectly brewed loose-leaf tea morning, noon and night. However, not even two chai loving ladies can ignore the force of the coffee revolution that has taken over G-town! One of the major players in this revolution is FUEL Coffee + Food, which produces bold, no-nonsense coffee (and tea + food – yay) from a fabulous little shed in G-town’s CBD. As well as making damn good food and drink, owners Greg and Georgie Matheson have done quite a job turning a little old shed into a very cool and superbly designed / decorated café space . Think: super cool industrial features and furniture, yellow pops of colour, natural wooden panelling and a few push bikes suspended here and there.
Oh! Hello Geelong was lucky enough to borrow a little of Georgie Matheson’s time for a Q&A – thanks Georgie!
What was the inspiration behind Fuel? Who is behind Fuel’s amazing interior design?
There were two main inspirations behind FUEL. Firstly, we wanted to create a destination in Geelong where you could get consistently great coffee regardless of who was behind the machine whilst at the same time providing friendly and welcoming customer service. Secondly, with two young children and years of split shifts and weekend rosters under Greg’s belt, our main objective was to find the perfect work/life balance that suited our family.
I’m not sure if many people are aware, but Greg has over 23 years experience in hospitality, it’s been his life and it’s all he knows. He set out from day one to make it his profession, and I honestly believe that it shows in his work, through his dedication, energy and attention to detail. Many of our customers have followed Greg from Le Parisien, Lotus Living, The Cottage and even from his early days at Cafe Boticelli (under Lindsay Powell) and Cats Bar & Cafe (in it’s heyday) which is a testament to his warmth and professionalism.
With Greg’s experience and our shared inspiration, we decided to open our own venue. During the early stages of developing the café, we visited Melbourne regularly and were impressed with the direction and style cafes were taking and wanted to bring a little bit of Melbourne creativity to Geelong. It was really important for us to find the perfect location and as luck would have it one of Greg’s loyal customers mentioned that he had a tiny unused garage in a CBD laneway; it was perfect!
The fit out process was really simple – I had a clear vision of what I wanted to achieve and took cues from the shed’s bone structure and history as an old mill. We stripped away decades of paint, plaster and carpet tiles to reveal stunning red brick walls, a polished concrete floor and the original timber beams and trusses. I must admit that I have become a bit obsessed with the styling of the cafe as interior design and visual merchandising are passions of mine (Oh! Hello Geelong just discovered that Georgie designed and operated @Luxe designer homeware concepts in Geelong West back in 2001!).
Where did the name come from?
The fit out of FUEL is industrial and a little quirky, with plenty of references to Greg’s other great passion in life – cycling and motorbikes; hence the name FUEL! It’s what your body needs everyday and so do his machines!
Who are your Tea/Coffee suppliers?
Our coffee is from Campos (roasted in Carlton) and our tea is from LoveChai Love Tea (a wonderful Geelong family who recently located to Byron Bay). They are both an absolute pleasure to do business with!
Can you give us an overview of the range of food available at Fuel?
Our simple breakfast and lunch menu showcases a range of delicious seasonal choices including vegetarian and gluten-free options. A wonderful local artisan baker makes our bread, cakes and pastries daily. Perhaps for breakfast you’d like to try the Irrewarra Granola served with Gippsland yoghurt and housemade rhubarb compote or for lunch perhaps one of our toasted paninis with spiced beetroot relish, Meredith Goats cheese and rocket (yum!).
What three words describe best describe Fuel?
Bustling, friendly and consistent
What is your favourite coffee and why?
Greg – A short Macchiato – If done correctly, it’s a punchy little coffee with a silky finish.
Georgie – I love a Latte using our Campos Superior Blend – its creamy, and has hints of caramel.
What makes THE perfect coffee?
A knowledgeable barista, spotless equipment, a superior product and great customer service!
Fuel is perfect for…
anyone who’s after a great coffee whilst in town!
What are your G-town loves?
Melbourne is only one hour east and the Great Ocean Road is only one hour west! Two of our favourite destinations all within an easy drive!
Where was the last great meal you had in Geelong? And drink?
It was definitely at Empire Grill. Greg and I don’t get the opportunity to go out for dinner that often, especially without the children, so if we do, we like to go somewhere that’s not too formal. We enjoy relaxing at the bar for a little while before taking a seat for dinner, especially if the open fire is going. Empire Grill is a great spot to unwind and it’s lovely to be on the other side of the counter for a change! The service is always amazing and the food is contemporary and delicious.
PS from Georgie – We are absolutely thrilled with the way Geelong has taken to us and appreciate everyday FUEL is open. It’s a tough climate for small business at present and we would like to take this opportunity to thank all of our customers, friends and family who continue to support us!
This has been an exciting journey for us, and we look forward to the next chapter. Stay tuned
So, go on! Get yourselves down to Fuel, dear readers! We know we’ll be back there very soon.
Thanks again to Greg and Georgie for the wonderful insight to the story behind such a fab place and space.
Love Penny + Laura