So Eric, how are evenings going?

Nights at Derailleur have been a big transition for the business and it seems as if everyone’s been curious to know how we’re going. Let me share a few titbits with you.

Initially I was concerned that opening late might affect our daytime service. Turns out I underestimated the talented team driving Derailleur’s nights because since late trading began our days have been busier than ever. It’s added a real buzz.

The Cafe Derailleur vision is to create a casual dining place that’s a step up from a café but neither a pub nor a restaurant: a relaxed and ambient atmosphere with sophisticated yet unpretentious meals. I feel we’re bang-on with this. 

From the start the team was confident nights would be successful – that’s why from the beginning we’ve required table bookings. However it’s the times before and after dinner that are really giving us heart.

It’s 4 pm customers coming into the café to catch up with friends over a glass of wine, beer and a snack or those chasing a late lunch.

We adore those customers calling in for an early dinner before heading off to a movie, the theatre, a meeting or an event, because with the kitchen open until 10 pm and dessert service on offer till 11pm Friday and Saturday, a fair few of them head back afterwards to draw on their inner David and Margaret to critique the night.

There’s also a cohort stopping by Saturday arvos to nurse a red with the weekend papers. And we revel in the cosmopolitan feel that descends on us when V/Line and XPT travellers appear for Prosecco and pâté before they board the 6.14 pm train to Melbourne.

We've also found that customers have come to love our courtyard. It’s the perfect space for groups of twenty or more people to meet privately and make as much noise as they like (as long as you don't wake the neighbours!)  People have already seen the potential of this space with our first Christmas party booking from a business in Beechworth - they're super organised (pending child birth does that to one apparently)!  We created a fixed price menu for them which we are happy to do for bookings of more than ten.

Our successful transition to night service hasn’t happened by magic. Let me introduce the culinary professionals making Derailleur’s dinners come to life Thursday, Friday and Saturdays.

I’ll start with Laura, my front-of-house. Super-organised doesn’t properly describe her, she’s highly efficient and brings a wealth of hospitality experience to the team.  Laura’s ably backed by Front of House trainee Morgan who works an evening shift each week to gain experience in a different styles of service. It’s her flexibility and willingness to learn that makes Morgan easy to get along with and incredibly reliable. (She also makes great cookies in her spare time).

In the kitchen Ray, my evening sous chef is the quiet achiever; nothing is ever too much trouble. No problem boss he tells me, which is almost always true given his talents and the backing he gets from dedicated second year apprentice Vanessa. Vanessa’s someone to watch, she’s so committed to being a chef that despite living in Wodonga she spends five nights a week in Wangaratta just to work and learn at Derailleur - dedication, tick!

Last of all we have a couple of juniors who help with the dishes, cleaning and serving of food. Izzy, who’s been with us for the past three years and newbie Peyton are gaining valuable experience and work skills that will set them up for wherever their aspirations take them.

So, in a nutshell dinners are going well for Café Derailleur - it’s the talented team and menu that’s luring new and loyal customers. But please don’t just take my word for it – book a table for dinner or drop by for a drink and a snack after 3 pm on a Thursday, Friday or Saturday and see for yourself.

Thank you Instagrammer @carm3677 for the great photo we've used!