Set to become a Cessnock favourite, dishing up specialty coffee, great food, and relaxing vibes.
Cessnock is an unexpected but up-and-coming foodie hotspot for our region, owing much of its growing success to the dynamic duo, Blake Gontier and Noah Leonard.
The pair behind Mr O, the local Cessnock wholefoods café known for its specialty coffee and fresh, healthy meals, have now launched a sibling café, Arthur’s Pantry.
The space is sleek, modern and bright, the menu is fun and quirky, and the establishment is sure to quickly become a celebrated favourite, bringing vibrance and energy to the Cessnock area.
The old burger shop venue underwent a rapid transformation thanks to some help from Blake and Noah’s dedicated family members and the expertise of local interior design legends, Something More Design.
"We only got the keys to the space on the 1st of December, and then we spent the first few weeks pulling everything out and ripping it apart.
"There was nothing in the kitchen except for the rangehood, so we installed everything from scratch."
"We’re glad to be finished, but impressed at how it all meshed together pretty quickly!” says Noah.
The impressive young couple have combined their skills, ambitions, and entrepreneurial spirits to diversify Cessnock’s food scene. Blake’s involvement in the hospitality industry began almost 10 years ago at McDonald’s, where he got a feel for the industry and developed critical skills.
Blake then moved onto the old Oscar’s at the Hunter Valley Gardens, before becoming a manager and, eventually, owner of Mr O Wholefoods.
His passion for his community, and for serving up delicious and nutritious meals remain cornerstones of what he’s about and what he now hopes to dish up at Arthur’s.
And as for Noah?
“I love working front-of-house, I love chatting to customers and just getting to know people”, he says.
The menu is mouth-watering, boasting plenty of tantalising old favourites, but with exciting modern twists.
While Arthur’s doesn’t place the same emphasis on wholefoods and healthy eating as Mr O, Blake is keen to ensure that people are still served up fresh, clean meals that make them feel great.
“I really love good food and when people come here, I want them to walk out feeling satisfied and impressed with their choices!" explains Blake, who crafted the current Arthur's menu.
“I wanted to think outside the box with flavours a bit to see what we could do differently."
"With the eggs benny for example, I wanted to experiment with the flavour combinations using beef brisket and fried sweet potato which has worked well."
No meal pays testament to this avant-garde approach better than the Chilli Scrambled Eggs — a flavour explosion of fluffy scrambled eggs, truffle mayo, chilli oil, shaved cucumber, and fried shallots all served atop crusty, locally-supplied sourdough toast.
Not so into spice? Fear not! The chilli flavour is subtle, giving the dish a unique edge while remaining approachable and oh-so-enjoyable.
Noah and Blake are avid supporters of Central Coast-based Glee Coffee roasters, so wanted to continue using their specialty beans across both Mr O and Arthur’s, while ensuring the two venues felt distinct from one another.
“We’ve opted for a different blend at Arthur’s, which features caramel notes, rather than the bold, berry and cocoa chocolate tones that come through in the blend we use at Mr O” Blake explains.
While the local community has embraced Arthur’s enthusiastically, popping in to check it out, Noah and Blake are easing in, conscious of biting off more than they can chew.
The venue’s indoor and outdoor spaces can hold a total of 44 customers, so it’s expected to be busy and bustling with foot traffic, and bursting with good vibes.
Down the track, the venue could be used for a number of purposes, and will feature a range of local goods including candles, condiments, oils, granola, muesli, and cookies, as retail items — perfect for gifts or to treat yourself.
Pop into Arthur’s for a brunch that’s sure to make your day, and stay tuned as the team behind Arthur’s continue to take the Cessnock community by storm, evolving their venue into a fun, dynamic space that is sure to become a much-loved mainstay of the region!
Image credit @katiewadestudio