Anybody who thinks opening a cafe is easy should seek out Ed Devlin. Since 2005, Ed has run Ruby’s Diner with his partner Emma Knowles, initially as an intimate space before opening @rubyswaverley in 2008. For the first seven years of the business’s life, Ed admits to not making a wage and at one stage supplemented his income delivering pizzas at night. Perseverance and a strong self-belief have made Ruby’s a success, to which the weekend queues are testament.
“Cafes are a very self-taught business,” reveals Ed. “People often look at it and say oh yeah I can make some coffee and put some music on. No one teaches you all the tricks you have to live through.” These tricks are wide-ranging: from the expectations of a sometimes demanding clientele to managing a team. “Employing people that know more than you is important,” explains Ed. “I realise that when I micromanage, I don’t get the best out of people but when I give them autonomy, they flourish. Getting out of my own way has been a lifetime in the making. Let people show you how it is done.”
The cafe’s name is a touching tribute to Ed and Emma’s daughter Ruby, a way of sharing her life. Coming full circle, Ed and Emma met in a cafe back in 2000. One of the nicest things about Ruby’s is the couple’s commitment to creating something different (Ed uses the term ‘wicked twist’), interesting and constantly evolving. ‘Create or die’, is another Ed mantra.
Timing, particularly the changing culinary landscape, has proved a notable factor in their success. “We were really lucky with the health boom and interest in healthy living. That worked for us, we started the business based on these principles. Em always teaches me that the best meals are the simplest and you just let produce shine.” Emma works at Gourmet Traveller as Food Director and is the creative force behind the business where Head Chef Robbie has the talent to execute her vision.
“At Ruby’s we have a fairly extensive menu and we don’t allow people to change it,” admits Ed. “During the weekdays we are a bit more flexible. We can’t allow alternations during the weekend as we get really busy. Meeting expectations can be hard, especially when customers feel they run the service aspect of the cafe. It’s interesting that in the cafe culture people think it is anything goes. But we are creating something and that is why people come here.” All Ruby’s produce is sourced locally whether it comes from Iggy’s bread, Bronte Kitchen or Seven Seeds coffee. “It works because they are around and it’s nice to support local businesses,” adds Ed.
“Success isn’t guaranteed,” closes Ed. “Our philosophy is under promise over deliver, be teachable, confident and open. And oh, play vinyl!’” Music to the ears of prospective cafe investors.
Earth To Table Bondi Junction
Address 1/173-179 Bronte Rd, Queens Park NSW 2022
Phone 0404 379 585
Tue-Fri 6:30am – 3:30pm
Sat-Sun 7:00am – 4:00pm