I have a new cafe crush.
Captains of Industry couldn’t be more Melbourne. Tucked down a laneway off Little Bourke Street, this cafe sits one floor above street level, its large front windows overlooking the beautiful GPO building on Elizabeth Street. The space has a warehouse look, with painted brick walls and large metal roof beams, but it doesn’t feel cold or cavernous. A smattering of small wooden tables, a long dining table and window benches makes this a comfortable hangout whether you’re visiting as a group, a couple or alone.
And here’s where the industry comes in. Branching off from the main cafe space are three tiny shops: a shoemaker, a barbershop and a jeweller. Each is the size of a shoebox, but each is filled with a fascinating array of tools and contraptions. Peeking through these doors is like catching a glimpse into the Melbourne of another era.
While the website declares that ‘the practitioners of Captains of Industry are Practical Men of Wide Experience offering the Good, the True and the Beautiful in traditional men’s outfitting and dining’, ladies need not be fearful. The shoes may not be designed for us, but the delicious coffee serves everyone.
If Captains sounds on the hipster side of hip, it probably is. But unlike some cafes, this place has its feet on the ground. The staff are friendly and casual and the atmosphere is low-key. The music is so relaxed you’ll barely even notice it’s playing. This really is the perfect Melbourne hangout — cool, calm, well designed, and with enough genuine character that within no time the place will feel like an old friend.
Ah, Captains. I’ve been thoroughly charmed. See you again soon.
Address: Level 1, 2 Somerset Place, Melbourne
Tel: 9670 4405
Opening hours: 9am–5pm daily (barbershop closed Sunday and Monday)
Damage: Breakfast $9.50–$13.50, lunch $11–$14.50