Profile: Zest Cafe

Zest cafe nowra nsw team

With 3 locations across the NSW South Coast & Southern Highlands, Shane & the team at Zest serve delicious Cat’s Pyjamas coffee with a fast, tasty menu of modern Australian cafe classics.

In 2020, during the height of the pandemic, most cafe businesses were simply focussed on survival, but instead, the team at Zest were busy planning the opening of their third site in Bowral.

When news of the lockdown first hit, like everyone, Shane, along with manager Megan & the team were faced with some tough decisions. Shane explains “Watching the prime minister address the nation and we’re on the edge of our seat thinking – are we opening our doors on Monday?”.

Ultimately, they decided to press forward, “everyone outside was talking doom and gloom, but I wouldn’t allow it in the business. So, while cafes all around us were closing, we actually grew during this time.”

This approach to business has been key to their success since Shane first bought the original Zest cafe in Nowra 5 years ago.

Having worked in a high-pressure sales role for years, Shane decided it was time to change things up completely. When he spotted a cafe for sale in a prime position on Nowra’s main shopping strip, he knew this was the right time to make the leap into a new chapter of life.

However, taking on a new career wasn’t without its challenges – particularly because this was Shane’s first venture into hospitality.

Shane explains, “when I first stepped into the business, I was helping the chef out. I was basically his apprentice. Eventually, we changed chefs, which meant that I had to step into that role myself, which was a massive challenge – but it certainly made me appreciate the staff that we have and the importance of their roles”.

After a couple of years building the original cafe business in Nowra, when the opportunity came up to open a second site at Nowra private hospital, Shane jumped at the chance “The hospital was undergoing a big renovation. I had already bought a food trailer previously. So we put a couple of options to them and they went for it”

From the success of this venture, the opportunity to open a site at the Southern Highlands Private Hospital in Bowral soon followed – with the team opening “Sapphire by Zest” in December 2020.

The team at Zest aren’t done yet, with plans in the works to open at Nowra in the evening as a boutique bar & for private functions.

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Instagram: @zestcafe_group
Facebook: @ZestCafeGroup


Zest Cafe
Shop 2 (Holt Centre)
29 Kinghorn Street, Nowra NSW

Shots by Zest
Nowra Private Hospital
Weeroona Pl, Nowra NSW

Sapphire by Zest
Southern Highlands Private Hospital
99 Bowral St, Bowral NSW

Ben Irvine
From owner / operator of his own coffee business, to product development for a coffee multinational, to consulting with independent cafe owners, Ben has been involved across a wide range of the industry over the last 20 years. When he isn’t brewing coffee, or writing about it, Ben is likely to be annoying his kids with 90’s music trivia.
Ben Irvine

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