“I am passionate about creating community spaces,” says E-Gene Goh, one of the four owners of Jack B Nimble in Maidstone. “I’ve been in the hospitality industry for a long time and I particularly like owning cafes because it’s a place for people to gather, talk, laugh and share stories. It’s not as formal as a restaurant, as corporate as an office, or casual like a park.”
E-Gene started in the cafe business seventeen years ago with businesses in Melbourne’s CBD and Southbank.
When he moved to Maidstone, he wanted his suburb to have a cafe where people could gather for good food, good coffee, and great conversations. He opened Jack B Nimble in 2015.
The bright and airy cafe features blond wood and greenery with a Scandinavian aesthetic that brings a warm, cosy feel to the space.
As for the cafe’s name, E-Gene explains that he wanted a name that was friendly, not too scientific or complicated, with maybe a reference to a nursery rhyme. One day, he was watching a TV ad for Nimble short term loans and it was a light bulb moment!
Nimble. Nursery rhymes. Jack Be Nimble – but styled as Jack B Nimble, so it was more like a person’s name.
“Jack B Nimble is a culmination of all that I like about cafes,” explains E-Gene. “I worked at Axil Coffee Roasters before starting Jack B Nimble, so I’m confident about the quality of their product and that’s where we source our coffee beans from. The menu is Asian-inspired, reflecting my cultural background.”
In fact, their signature dish is an ‘Asian pasta’, a beef ragu linguine with the unexpected addition of Lao Gan Ma chilli sauce, the mainstay of every Chinese kitchen.
At any one time, you’ll see customers stream in for a coffee, something to eat and a chat. E-Gene describes his job as a ‘daytime bartender’ as well as being the head barista and front of house.
“I feel privileged and honoured to play a part in people’s lives,” smiles E-Gene. “All my staff are locals and we care for our neighbourhood. My customers are my neighbours, families from my children’s school and other local business owners. Kids come in and say hi to Uncle E-Gene and get their babycinos.”
He glances behind his shoulder at two people enjoying their breakfast behind him. “You see that couple there? Well, I met them when they were dating. In fact, he wanted to propose to her at Jack B Nimble! I’ve watched them get engaged, get married and have a child. And that baby started prep this year.”
Jack B Nimble has found much success as a cafe entrenched in the local community, so E-Gene and his partners are now looking for the next expansion westside.
“If it turns out to be a coffee kiosk, then look out for Jack B Quick!” he laughs.