How two Gold Coasters came to own a Tasmanian seaside cafe.
Living on the sunny Gold Coast, it was one suggestive line that catapulted Dan Wildman and Jordan Lewis into Tasmanian life. Glancing up from an ad for Swims East Coast Coffee, Dan said, “why don’t we buy a café and go move to Tassie?”
The dreamy comment became cool reality only months later when Dan and Jordan bought their one-way ticket south. Dan, a Marine Biologist, and Jordon with over a decade of hospitality experience under his belt, became the proud owners of their Scamander café in May, 2021.
“We just felt at home straight away,” says Jordan, “locals were so welcoming, even making sure we had a place to live and firewood. In many ways it’s similar to our Queensland lifestyle, being by the beach but the difference is, here people want to talk to you! The community want to engage. Comparably, it’s so laid back so it’s really nice to experience hospitality in this way.”
Scamander is a scenic town located between St Helens and St Marys on the north east coast. It’s well-loved for its wide-open beaches and is home to about 500 locals. During tourist season, numbers swell, with Swims well positioned to capture the passing visitors. About 20 minutes north, St Helens is the main commercial hub of the region.
“We weren’t sure where we’d open a café in Australia. We had only floated the idea, really. When Dan found Swims, it was all or nothing. It was a giant leap of faith. Yet, we actually never thought too hard about it, we just did it. Now that we’re here, this is where we belong,” adds Jordan.
Built around three years ago, Swims is well known to visitors and locals, built from a recycled 40-foot shipping container. Known for its casual dining arrangement, there are cosy indoor seats and a sprawling outdoor area where sandy feet and bathers are common come summer time. Toasties, baked-daily treats and specialty coffee have kept customers flowing year-round and now Dan and Jordan are excited to add their unique touch.
“We love getting in there early and opening up for the tradies and those that work in St Helens or St Marys,” says Dan. “We open from six daily and seven on the weekends, only closing on Tuesdays. We’ve been really encouraged by the welcoming spirit of the community and we’re excited to evolve the café. We’re getting to know people and want to deliver on exactly what they want.”
Though arriving on the cusp of winter was difficult for the former Gold Coasters, they’ve been acclimatising and are particularly taken by the sunrises from the café. Rising at 4.45am each morning to begin baking ensures that both don’t miss the sun coming up.
“Sure, we get up early,” says Jordan, “But, work doesn’t really feel like work. It feels like a vacation. We live in this house that has the beach from our kitchen window. I guess it feels like our life is one big holiday now.”
Not knowing a single soul when they arrived, they now feel part of the town’s fabric. While they service the loyal locals, Dan and Jordan have been surprised at the number of visitors passing through from intra and interstate.
“There are lots of new people coming in every day – plenty of tourists which is fantastic considering Covid-19,” says Dan. “It’s great to see people out exploring their backyard and enjoying the coast. Equally, it’s good to see a new face every day and hear a new story.”
On days off, hikes, Bay of Fires secret coves and mountain summits are on the menu. Dan and Jordan are also waiting for the weather to warm a few degrees before taking a dive into their shared passion for snorkelling.
“We just love it here. Actually, today we bought a puppy,” laughs Jordan. “She’s sitting on my lap honking away fast asleep. Little Luna is just seven weeks old and was born around the time we arrived – it’s like she was made for us. We’ve settled in far too well.”
Are you interested in making a move? Make it Tasmania.
Find out more about Swims East Coast Coffee.
For information on starting a business in Tasmania look through our stories or visit Business Tasmania.