20-year-old Alex Gelonesi is the kind of barista that instantly remembers your name and coffee order, pouring it before you even walk through the door.

Alex and his uncle, Frank Catanzariti, have opened up 1or2 Café, an exciting new addition to the green lawns of Manuka, serving up great coffee and even better food.

When speaking about how the café came together, Alex explains, “I’ve been in the hospitality industry for about five years now and my uncle and I have been talking about starting our own thing for a while. We saw the opportunity and took it.”

It’s clear that Alex has an unwavering passion for the industry; however, it’s a whole family effort.

“At the moment, it’s me, my brother Zach, my uncle Frank, my Granddad and sometimes mum helps too,” he says.

The family are ecstatic that within their first week they already had a full house and are furthermore excited to see how far they can take the café as a family.

1or2 Café has taken shape in the iconic space that was previously known as Grande’s. Designing the new fit-out was difficult as the space is heritage-listed space and there were a lot of regulars who didn’t want to see the beautiful shop front go.

The team succeeded in maintaining the same old-fashioned feel that Grande’s had, but with a fresh, contemporary atmosphere. Keeping the original façade of the 1983 shop, they stripped black paint from the window frames to reveal the stunning original brass underneath, adding shine and a nostalgic feel to the shop front.

In terms of the menu, Alex says, “We’re going back to basics, everything’s so complicated these days, there’s nowhere you can go for just simple stuff.”

Catanzariti is the man behind all the food, with experience cooking in his own cafes for over 20 years.

“We’ve got a lot of things on the menu that we always make at home on the weekends. It’s food that we all love and grew up eating,” he says.

Some stand-outs on the menu include the Mushroom Bruschetta with avocado and pine nuts and the Spanish Eggs served with homemade tomato sauce, basil and chorizo, as well as gourmet takeaway sandwiches – a quick and easy lunch option, which is hard to find in Manuka when you’re in a hurry.

Customers can expect to see local bakers on the shelves, with cakes and bread from Flute and Knead Bakery; and local Black Mountain coffee, which is roasted in Fyshwick.

Perfect for relaxing on any day of the week, 1or2 is a quaint and casual family-run café, which is set to be a new Manuka favourite this summer.

Open 6 am – 4 pm, 7 days a week.

4/19 Bougainville Street, Manuka – on the lawns.