Willow Wine Cafe and Myrtle Wine Cafe owner Ellen Turner bites into a delicious-looking ham and cheese sandwich and grins.
“Willow’s best-selling dish speaks to everything about how I want to run my businesses,” she explains. “It’s a simple, comforting and familiar sandwich made with the best quality ingredients – and I know exactly where the ingredients have come from to make it. The ham is made from Western Plains pork by Saltbush Kitchen in Ballarat. It’s combined with Swiss cheese and a Barossa pickle. The bread is from Candied Bakery in Spotswood.”
Ellen’s strong overarching manifesto for Willow Wine Bar and Cafe in Kingsville – and her newest venture Myrtle Wine Cafe at Footscray Community Arts Centre – is to be ethical and responsible towards everything she does.
That means supporting small, local producers and suppliers as much as possible, and building spaces that are uniquely comfortable and inclusive.
“I want people to visit Willow and Myrtle and feel like they’re welcome to sit for a long time; to take time out from their busy lives,” says Ellen.
As such, Willow and Myrtle are spaces filled with plants and natural light, staffed with friendly people and offer a thoughtful menu made with ingredients sourced from ethical and sustainable suppliers.
As for the names – ‘Willow’ is a homage to the building’s original purpose as a cricket bat repair shop, while ‘Myrtle’ is a reference to the ‘Willow Myrtle’, a native plant that grows prolifically along the nearby Maribyrnong River. “Myrtle” matches nicely with ‘Willow’ and complements the Footscray Community Arts Centre’s galleries that are named after indigenous flora.
“We are so grateful for local support, especially during challenging times,” says Ellen. “Locals know us and want us to do well. That means a lot to me.”