Meet Brother Lawrence, a dedicated bagel, bread and coffee bar in Newtown 
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15.06.2022

Meet Brother Lawrence, a dedicated bagel, bread and coffee bar in Newtown 

Photo credit: weddingswithryal. 
Photo credit: weddingswithryal. 
Photo credit: weddingswithryal. 
Photo credit: weddingswithryal. 
Photo credit: weddingswithryal. 
Photo credit: weddingswithryal. 
Photo credit: weddingswithryal. 
Photo credit: weddingswithryal. 
Photo credit: weddingswithryal. 
Photo credit: weddingswithryal. 
Photo credit: weddingswithryal. 
Photo credit: weddingswithryal. 
Photo credit: weddingswithryal. 
Photo credit: weddingswithryal. 
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There’s a crowd gathering in the former RSS Woolen Mill in Newtown, and they’ve all got one of three things on their mind: bagels, bread or coffee (or perhaps all three). 

Inside the historic wool mill, host to Geelong’s dedicated art space Boom Gallery, Anglesea’s Michael Lobbe has transformed the space into something special with his first cafe, Brother Lawrence. 

Taking over the cafe space previously occupied by the likes of Sunday and Neighbour cafe, Michael has re-gifted the bustling arts hub with a neighbourhood-friendly, laidback everyday bagelry and coffee shop.

Keep up with the latest food and booze news across the region here.

 

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Opening the cafe in January this year, Brother Lawrence feels like a concept years in the making, originating from Michael’s baking business, Loaves by Lobbe

When it comes to loaves, it was love at first sight for Michael, who started baking sourdough while studying primary teaching eight years ago. With the inspiring qualities of hospitality ingrained into his upbringing, Michael was drawn in by the process of baking, one that remained mostly unchanged for thousands of years. 

“My mum and dad would always invite guests around, mum doing the cooking, and dad doing anything he could do to be helpful (which is a long list). Both mum and dad showed me what it is like to share your skills for the benefit of others, and not expect anything back. 

“I have then worked in hospitality since I have been old enough to. Started off doing dishes down in Anglesea and when it was a bit quieter over winter the chefs and baristas started to show me a few things.”

Nearing the end of his third year teaching primary school students full time, Michael realised he needed to make a change altering spending his school holidays and every other chance he could doing cameo shifts in local cafes. It was here that Michael began baking seriously as Loaves By Lobbe, taking online orders for 100% sourdough loaves and handcrafted bagels. 

 

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Fast forward to 2022, and Brother Lawrence – Newtown’s go-to on a Saturday morning – has become a homage to Michael’s passion. Here, it’s all about simple ingredients and allowing the bagels to do the talking.

Handmade, rolled, boiled and baked the traditional way, these dense, chewy hoops are the hero at Brother Lawrence. And while Michael’s poppy seed, plain and sesame bagels may lean traditional, the fillings sure don’t.

There are seven topping options on offer at the cafe, from the very simple (bacon & egg, or ham & cheese), to the more elaborate. You might order the classic NYC-inspired citrus-cured salmon bagel with lemon and dill schmear, red onion and roquette; or a very Melbourne smashed avo bagel with hash brown and sliced tomato; or perhaps up the ante with the Rueben, made with an ‘everything’ bagel, pastrami, cheddar, sauerkraut, spinach and mustard. 

Inspired by creation, Brother Lawrence also offers not-so-classic bagels, like the blueberry or cinnamon and raisin bagel with you can get topped with cream cheese and Bellarine Jam. Worthy of the Sandy Cohen tick of approval no doubt. Season salad is also available for every bagel, either dine-in or takeaway. 

“Everyone I have ever spoken to seems to love bagels. They have a story of memory in the US, or they just love them! When I started to make them for myself, I saw an opportunity to create a menu around them.”

Of course, there’s more to Brother Lawrence than bagels thanks to head Chef Andrew Dunn. 

The cafe also boasts a quaint but vibrant breakfast and lunch menu inspired by fresh and local produce. With a focus on simple, wholesome meals, you’ll find eggs ‘any way’ (served on Loaves by Lobbe sourdough of course), Citrus Cured Salmon, Pumpkin Smash, housemate tacos with Sriracha chicken, and our favourite, the Eton mess – a sweet dish made with berry lane, marshmallow, meringue, espresso brittle and fresh berries. 

 

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You’ll also find a cabinet stocked with focaccias, freshly squeezed juices, sparkling drinks, hot drinks, assorted tea from Love Tea and coffee by Ona, brewed and served to perfection. 

If that wasn’t enough, you can even get your hands on fresh bread here to take away, seven days a week. 

Operating on three core values: passion, creativity and community, Brother Lawrence has created creating a homely feel within the light and airy space – just take the origin of its name to prove it. 

“Brother Lawrence was a monk in a French monastery in the 17th century. He found himself in the kitchen and ironically, he didn’t like it very much. However, he spent a lot of time focusing on why he was doing things, much less what he was doing. 

“I really resonated with that, and I think it is why I love the industry so much. I learned about Brother Lawrence in 2015 and always thought it would be a cool name for a cafe.”

We think so too. 

 

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A post shared by Brother Lawrence (@brother_lawrence_)

As for the design, credit goes to Geelong artist-musician-photographer-barista-business owner, Joshua Maxwell de Hoog. Known for championing other local creative artists and encouraging off-kilter forms of self-expression through his business Analogue Academy, a collaboration between Josh and Brother Lawrence was just meant to be. 

Designed with comfort and care in mind, when you dine with Brother Lawrence, everything is taken care of and there’s a lot to love about that. 

Brother Lawrence is located at 11 Rutland Street, Newtown. It operates Monday to Saturday from 8 am-4 pm, and Sunday from 9 am-3 pm.