Grounds of Society, the newest coffee haunt with a traditional charm

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Grounds of Society, the newest coffee haunt with a traditional charm

With every café comes its own identity and its own mood within the surrounding community – and the newest identity on the scene is Grounds of Society who are imparting their very own personality into the streets of Geelong.

Experienced café owner Terri Bitton, alongside partner Julie Taylor, are no strangers to the world of caffeine, delicious food, hard work and long hours. With Taylor’s catering experience over in New York combined with Bitton’s hairdressing background, the two combined their transferable skills into running Wallington café Elk Horn Roadhouse for six years. Stepping away from the throws of hospitality life after selling the Wallington cafe last year (while also maintaining part ownership of Ryrie Street café Son of an Elk), it wasn’t long before the grounds of this central Geelong establishment bought them well and truly back into the business in February this year with their newest venture, Grounds of Society.

“We were sort of just working there [Son of an Elk] casually and then we were asked about this place and thought that we would look at it. Once we saw what was happening in Geelong and around this area, we thought it could be a long-term thing that we could look at for now, and the future,” Bitton explains, “I just sort of feel that Geelong is going to be a really big food hub so it’s exciting to be a part of that and that’s why we decided to go back into it again.”

Not only are they making a name for themselves as being one of the most humble and welcoming cafes (guaranteed warm welcome on arrival and genuine conversations at all times), Grounds of Society is also the place shaping the very definition of the pre-midday meal – coined by a customer at the time of my visit as “the best breakfast in Geelong”.

The fresh, house-made menu (which includes a variety of vegan and specific dietary requirements) is small but has potential to suit everyone’s tastes, especially with a focus on changing seasonal ingredients. “Our menu is small but we keep it rotating. We try and keep it seasonal and just making small changes so that when people come there is always something new.”

A few highlights on the menu include the French toast with ice cream and pickled strawberries, the chicken congee, along with Bitton’s favourite being the spaghetti dish with kale pesto, goat’s cheese, parmesan and panagratto. “The pasta!” Bitton exclaims, “The pasta we are really in love with at the moment. It’s really beautiful. I also love the steamed buns and we can do it with the tofu which makes them vegan or we can do them with the pork belly. The mushroom ragu is really nice in this cooler weather as well. Oh, there are so many things that I love.”

The café also boasts a large takeaway variety including home-made pies, tarts, toasties and a selection of mouth-watering pastries from Ket Baker, and just recently the team have introduced delicious $5 cups of soup which you can enjoy alongside their quality All Press coffee to help you battle the winter weather.

Image sourced from Grounds of Society socials.

Best of all, with traffic moving slower and time schedules getting busier, this is the place to go when you need a little pick me up but don’t want to loiter. Grounds of Society have made it easy with their take-away smartphone app – meaning you can pick up your take-away cup of coffee, a fresh pie or a tasty treat on the go.

As for the stylish interior, well it’s got all the quirky features, lighting and insta-potential you could ask for in an all-day eatery. Casual elegance is reflected in the dark blue design in the entire fit-out, spurring from a set of Churchill China plates. “It’s all back – it’s really intricate [the Churchill China]. I just love the colour. I just love the dark blue in it and we just worked on the theme of navy blue, grey and gold and that’s was sort of my design palette and it just evolved from that.”

This navy blue theme is featured on the water bottles, the chairs, cushions, the coffee machine, the crockery, the ceiling and a narrow hallway that features local art designs and leads to a courtyard out back. Maintaining the past cafés large bookshelf, Bitton has given new life to the space, creating natural light with mirrors and various contrasting gold accents, including gold cutlery, salt and pepper shakers and the golden features within the mesmerising stucco walls, which Bitton created herself to give the space an intentionally worn but welcoming look.

“I wanted to do a wall feature in the stucco which they use a lot in Venice, so that took me a little while to do that and find the product. It’s just all glassy and I love it,” she says, “We were just wanting to do something that was moving away from the conventional café look.”

Perfect for your morning caffeine hit, or your afternoon cup of tea, Grounds of Society is located at 45 Malop Street and is open 7:30am to 4pm Monday to Friday.

The Grounds of Society app can be found on iTunes.
Ph: (03) 5222 8900

Written and photographed by Talia Rinaldo