When business partners Paul Pantano and Jean Desnoux sought to build a café/restaurant in a disused section of the old Arnott’s Biscuit factory in North Strathfield (Sydney), they had to overcome a couple of challenges. Thankfully, one big one was resolved – to great relief – by Damien, General Manager of Cafeideas.
Being an old heritage building, the factory holds inimitable charm. As such, Paul and Jean wanted to ensure that their usage of what has become Conservatorium did not detract from its original appearance. Additionally, they were instructed by the landlord that their business would have to incorporate a bakery, something they hadn’t initially considered but which has turned out to be an important aspect of the Conservatorium offering.
A huge hurdle came in the form of the gas supply, when conflicting advice meant they had ordered all incorrectly configured equipment and timing was of the essence. With just two weeks to go before opening, the team were at panic stations. Not being able to open in time for Christmas would mean an enormous blow and it was critical that the problem be resolved.
“We didn’t know what to do,” Paul explained. “All we could think of was to ring Damien, our rep at Cafeideas and see what he could come up with. Well! Not only did he have a solution – to convert all the appliances from natural gas to LPG with converters – but he actually did it within 24 hours!”
Converters were delivered to the store the next day for Conservatorium’s fryer, 4-burner gas stove, griddle and salamander, completely solving the issue.
“Damien is amazing,” Paul smiled. “He knows his stuff so well and he made our setup job so much easier. I can’t say strongly enough how professional, knowledgeable and willing to help he is.”
Paul and Jean were already in talks with another commercial equipment supplier and awaiting their quote when they noticed the Cafeideas stand at the Fine Food Festival in Sydney. “We thought they only did furniture,” Paul told us. “We nearly didn’t go up to Damien for a chat because he was eating at the time but lucky we did! Interrupting him with a mouthful of food, poor guy, was a nice way to kick off the relationship! We can’t believe our luck. Damien had a quote to me within a week and his prices were so good that other, much bigger suppliers didn’t even come close!”
“Damien is what I’d call a ‘hospitality equipment nerd’! I reckon what he doesn’t know isn’t worth knowing. He never tried to over-sell us on things we didn’t need and he seems to have an instinct for what would be best, based on what he takes the time to learn about his clients’ businesses. He’s very passionate and that’s very infectious. It’s literally priceless when someone like that helps you build your business.”
Paul said whenever he contacted Damien for information, he would receive a response within minutes. “I couldn’t believe it! It’s like he anticipates our questions and is ready with an immediate reply. He also listens really well so he can give the best possible advice. Not every business has the same timeline goals or needs the same quality of equipment but Damien seriously cannot be beaten on product knowledge, communication or price.”
Paul has lived and breathed the hospitality industry from his childhood spent in his parents’ businesses. “I know hospitality and the challenges that go with it. When you find a supplier you can trust, you stick with them. We wouldn’t dream of doing business with anybody else. We have such great peace of mind, having someone like Damien in our corner. He always has our best interests at heart and that’s rare to find.”