“If walls could talk” then the walls at Mama Bear would neigh. Positioned around the corner from Flemington Racecourse, the equestrian connection to this building isn’t difficult to imagine. What is difficult to imagine is the original purpose of the building and the fate of the horses that were kept there. It is lurid but unfortunately the harsh reality of horseracing in the early days and a part of the history of this village.
10 months ago however when Daniel and Ashley discovered the space, it was a Mexican cantina. Ashley’s background as a chef and his extensive experience in café’s on the other side of town partnered with Daniel to create Mama Bear. Ashley brings with him a loyal team to which he credits the smooth running of the business.
Despite sandblasting the walls, polishing the concrete floors and adding period pieces to the warehouse shell, they still needed a final finishing touch. Enlisting the creative direction of Blender Studio artists, they sought to achieve that elusive uniqueness. The beautiful artwork on the external walls is a head-turner and transforms the café into a Melbourne icon.
The locals are very loyal and the many regulars know the menu and the boys well. There are quirky additions to the menu such as the peanut butter swirl espresso shot and in keeping with the racing surrounds, the offerings provide punters with appropriate bubbles and catering for racing carnivals and Melbourne showground events. The upcoming Melbourne Cup promises an over-the-top crowd and the team will brace themselves for a very busy festival.
But even after the crowds have gone, the celebrations continue with Mama Bear faithfuls. Seated beside me is a regular that will celebrate her 60th birthday here in February. Mama Bear is indeed a local that loves a party.
Where: 526 Racecourse Road Flemington
When to go: Tuesday – Friday 7:30am-4pm, Saturday/Sunday 8am-4pm
What to order: Barista special for the week
Coffee highlight: Gridlock