Over the last eight years, Mel Chapman and her dedicated team at the gorgeous Pegs Cafe have become the beating heart of Whitebridge.

Mel is always on hand with her trademark friendly warm-hearted smile making sure the food that comes out of the Pegs kitchen is top-notch.

That dedication was paid back double over the lockdown as the Whitebridge community rallied around to ensure that Pegs survived. I spoke with Mel about Pegs, Whitebridge and why she can’t ever see herself leaving the Whitebridge community.

Thanks for the chat Mel, I believe congratulations are in order?

Yes, at the end of last year we celebrated eight years since we first opened the doors at Pegs! I remember walking into the gutted former fruit shop with the twins, Edison and George, as two-year-olds and 10-month-old Pollyanna strapped to my chest. I used the first letters of their names to create the name “Pegs”. The ‘s’ is in homage to our staff. I’d been working in hospitality from the age of 18 and previously ran the Bar Beach Bowling Club Bistro then Pippis at the Point for six years. My other cafes were stepping-stones to building Pegs. I’d always dreamt that I would build a cafe from scratch, one that was an extension of me and would become a hub for the community. All of my savings, experience and design aesthetic were poured into Pegs to create a very special place. My staff have been with me for years and are my rocks. I’m lucky they are all as emotionally attached to the business as I am.

Apart from the stunning natural beauty, what made you choose Whitebridge as your dream location?

I wanted to be part of a small community, so Whitebridge was totally the right place to start my little cafe. Our demographic is so mixed. From school kids popping in with their mates, local business people, mums, dads and their kids, and families all the way through to retirees. We get to know everyone and everyone becomes part of Pegs. It’s such a great community of people. Everyone just looks after each other.

How did you survive the lockdown in 2020?

While I never closed our doors for even one day, I had to be brutal at the start and only keep key staff on. Thankfully, once we got into the rhythm of takeaways, we could bring staff back on. The community was amazing. People were asking me if I needed any help by offering money or buying vouchers. Everything I advertised, including lunch and dinner packs, and school lunches, would sell out. The community support extended to everyone in the Whitebridge business community – the butcher, the bakery, and the takeaway shop – the local community support really got us all through it.

How would you describe your food?

The Pegs philosophy is that everything tastes better when it’s cooked with love and passion. We offer “Modern Australian” food during the daytime in the cafe. However, we like to put our own spin on it, like our delicious pesto eggs. For the last five years, on Thursday and Friday nights, we’ve offered monthly themed dinners. In December, we had Mexican food. We call it our “Feed Me Package”. For $40 per head, there’s a large selection of dishes placed in the middle of the table. Our customers book in advance, often without even knowing which cuisine we will be featuring, because they enjoy the atmosphere as well as the food.

Book me in! Thanks for chatting Mel, and here’s to a fabulous 2021 for you and the Pegs team.

Pegs Cafe in Whitebridge is open seven days, 6.30 am to 3 pm (dine-in). Then Pegs opens for dinner on Thursday and Friday nights. They also offer take-home dinner packs and a VIP dining experience for 10.  

Photo credit: Pegs Facebook page

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