Dom Gattermayr comes from a family of hospo legends. The co-owner and chef at Carlton’s most-loved new cafe, Florian, was raised with her sister in the venues owned by her Mum and Dad. ‘We used to live above my parent’s first cafe in South Melbourne. I remember being given the all important jobs of peeling the stickers off the oranges and stamping bags’, reflects Dom. ‘My sister and I used to slide down the bannister and run into the cafe from the back door for babycinos’.
Despite this illustrious introduction to the hospitality industry at an early age, Dom was adamant that she wouldn’t follow in her parents’ footsteps. ‘For no reason whatsoever, I just thought it wasn’t for me’, she says. Dom went on to study public relations and spent some time working at an agency in Melbourne and New York before figuring out that life behind a desk wasn’t going to work for her. After watching her mum open her latest venture Austro, a fantastic bakery in South Melbourne, she realised that the challenge of opening a cafe of her own was something she wanted to pour all her energy and creativity into.
In March this year, Dom opened Florian, with her childhood friend Rose Richards. It has – to put it simply – popped off. With two talented girls in their mid twenties at its helm, Florian has become one of Melbourne’s favourite new eateries pretty much overnight. In a city that has at times been oversaturated with places to eat, Florian feels like the place you’ve been searching for: friendly, uncomplicated and earnest in every way.
Nestled into the strip of shops and cafes on tree lined Rathdowne street, Florian looks and feels like it could easily be a locals’ haunt somewhere in Europe. ‘The building itself leans into a French bistro or Italian espresso bar direction’, says Dom. ‘Our small menu starts with breakfast or a pastry and coffee at the bar. At lunch time the menu changes and offers a seasonal pasta and fish dish, plus lots of salads and sandwiches piled in the window for takeaway or dine in.’
As one of the co-owners of such a successful new venture, Dom’s got her fingers in all of the Florian pies. On any given day you’ll find her poaching eggs in the kitchen, taking orders from across the bar, paying invoices or managing the roster for her small team. Her days start pretty early and are ‘go-go-go’, but that’s just the way she likes it!
I wake up 6:30, even if I’m not working I find it hard to sleep in. The first thing I do every morning is have a coffee and check my emails. On a working day I pay invoices, check orders, look at rosters and get going to work. It’s pretty go, go, go once I get to Florian so I try to get some admin done when I can.
I definitely struggle with the initial rolling out of bed process but once I’m up I am productive in the mornings. I love to get started with my day and tick jobs off nice and early.
I start work at 7am, and would normally ride my bike in summer and drive in winter drive, although I’m trying to get out of the habit of driving…
Our kitchen set up takes a good half hour, and then most days we are straight into service. I like to check in with everyone front of house and take a quick look at the set-up to see what pastries and cakes were delivered that day. Finding a good playlist to get us started for the day is a nice morning ritual.
It’s tricky to stop for lunch in the kitchen when service doesn’t really stop, but I try and sit down outside for a quick bite most days. I normally eat a bowl of salad with some salmon gravlax on the side because it’s my absolute favourite. At the moment we have an eggplant salad with lime pickle and yoghurt dressing, which is my go-to.
Afternoons generally give us an idea of what our next day is going to look like. The staff have a little debrief while we finish up, write our prep lists for what needs to happen the next day, place orders, replenish our sections and pack down.
I definitely feel energised in the afternoon! If it’s a nice day I’ll always try to go for an after work walk and buy some ingredients for dinner or go for a knock-off wine with whoever’s closing at work.
I’m done in the kitchen around 3:30pm and then I finish around 4:30pm when we close the shop doors for the day. Believe it or not I cook to unwind, it really helps me to relax. I love getting home and starting to cook while I chat to my housemates about our days. I cook a lot of fish at home and we have access to some great produce from Clamms through Florian. For dinner tonight I’m making tuna sashimi with spring onion and ginger oil, spinach and sesame salad and some rice.
My ‘switch off’ time is sitting on the couch and do some knitting while watching some trashy TV, specifically Survivor. I also do an occasional yoga class!
I usually go to sleep around 10:30pm. I think I could get more sleep than I do, but I also love being busy and you can’t have it all!