Having launched his second brick and mortar patisserie, Abbots & Kinney owner and head pastry chef Jonny Pisanelli aims to spread his passion for fine pastry and coffee across the city.
Nestled on the Fenn Place laneway at UniSA’s City West Campus, the newly opened café is Abbots & Kinney’s latest permanent venue after establishing the Pirie Street bakery in 2015 and a kiosk at the University of Adelaide earlier this year.
Jonny Pisanelli says despite the lengthy application process, the expansion into the city’s west end has provided him with a springboard to broaden the outreach of his pastry business into the other side of the CBD.
“All in all it’s been almost 12 months since we started applying for it so in that sense it’s been long, but it has also allowed us a lot of time to knuckle down on what we want to achieve and get those processes in place so when we opened last week we were ready for it,” he says.
Abbots & Kinney’s presence on the UniSA campus exposes the patisserie to a majority youth customer base not as accustomed to pastries as the largely white-collar clientele on Pirie Street. Pisanelli wants to create a lasting appreciation for fine pastry and coffee in the hearts and minds of the younger generation.
“This is what we want them to have once they finish Uni,” he says. “So [we thought] why should we hold back from providing them with those sort of different products like our coffee or our pastry or our chocolates or the food, so we’ve changed nothing and we’ve used that opportunity to just get to know them because we want them to be around us when they finish Uni.
“The Uni has allowed us to really spread our wings and push the envelope … it’s really exciting and its really nice that so far it’s been really well received by the students and the faculty, and even people from the RAH and the SAHMRI building. We’re not just here for the university, we’re here for anyone that appreciates good coffee and pastry.”
Differentiating from the design of Abbots & Kinney’s Pirie Street café, the new bakery has a casual vibe. Featuring a small neon light display of the initials ‘A&K’ above a shelf of pastry treats, curved walls with shades of white and pale green lead to a flat screen television at the rear.
“It’s probably a bit more relaxed in here because you know we are working with Uni students as well and generally that’s their personality,” says Pisanelli. “It’s a bit more comfortable, I think, with more seating. We want to encourage people to sit down and stay for a long time you know get their laptops out and do a little bit of work, whereas it’s a little bit restricted at Pirie Street.”
The new store also includes a fully fitted in-house bakery visible to customers where the Italian-inspired pastries are freshly baked every morning.
The move to expand Abbots & Kinney was always Pisanelli’s ambition, who has renewed his focus on ramping up in-house pastry production as part of his direction for the business.
“We’re upscaling our production from our kitchen, we’re re-introducing baking on-site again and that offers different challenges for us,” he says. “We’ve had the opportunity put a pizza oven in which really changes the way we’re able to heat our products up. It allows us to maintain the integrity of the bread or the baguettes, or the buns or the pastry. I really wanted to use this as an opportunity to see if we can maintain that quality on a bigger scale.”
However, the addition of a new café, more on-site baking and plans to continue expanding have come at the expense of forgoing the wholesale side of their operations.
Pisanelli says while the decision to stop selling their pastries at other cafes in Adelaide was tough, it is a necessary compromise to move forward.
“We really felt that now it’s time to really scale it right back so we can really focus on our systems, improving our product and improving our range,” he says. “We felt for the long term that’s going to be the best decision for us. But we hope that one day we’re in that position where we can potentially look at doing it again.”
With a desire to push the limits of his pastry and coffee making, Pisanelli has a dream of one day taking Abbots & Kinney interstate and overseas.
“I always wanted to give back to the people who have supported us and we’ll continue to do that, but I would love for the opportunity to take what we’ve been known for in Adelaide,” he says. “I really think we can really add something to Melbourne or Sydney or New York… Regardless of whether it goes fantastically or pear-shaped, I think just the experience, you can’t put a price tag on that.”
Photos: Anthony Dodd