The Archdeacons: (from left) Ali, Donna, Emily, Brie and Steve. Picture: Contributed
The Archdeacons: (from left) Ali, Donna, Emily, Brie and Steve. Picture: Contributed

Archdeacon family a Gold Coast powerhouse

A shared passion for hospitality and retail has made the Archdeacon family a powerhouse on the southern end of the Gold Coast.

It all started with husband-and-wife team Steve and Donna, who have always aimed to be one step ahead of the game in innovative menu planning and service.

They opened Cafe Dbar - on the Coolangatta side of the Boundary Street border with NSW - 14 years ago on an undertaking to give customers "something they don't expect".

Cafe Dbar. Picture: Shirley Sinclair
Cafe Dbar. Picture: Shirley Sinclair

They turned a former pie shop into something special, adding quirky items and bringing fresh, local ingredients to the menu for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Something as simple as Tim Tams with coffee went above and beyond cafe expectations back then.

Donna said Cafe Dbar brought items such as spicy chicken wraps, salted caramel popcorn and Tim Tam Deluxe Smoothies to the Gold Coast long before they became "mainstream".

"They were our fun times," she said.

And it's not just the surfing fraternity that appreciates it. The cafe is also a favourite with locals and the word got out long ago with tourists who will travel kilometres to enjoy their coffee or meal with that view over the ocean and Captain Cook Memorial and Lighthouse from the top of the point.

The couple met in Cronulla where Donna's father lived but Steve followed the Southport girl north, moving to the Gold Coast in 1989.

Steve loved his surfing and living in Cooly - working local for lifestyle for his family.

So in 2005, the former executive chef of Twin Towns and the Taphouse Group set about building his own empire in paradise, with the help of a second generation of the family.

Up until a recent move to London to further her skills in the event sector, middle daughter Emily left her mark on Cafe Dbar as manager, working with executive chef Steve on menu planning and taking the lead for other cafes to follow.

"She pushed the extraordinary," mother Donna said of Emily. "No one on the Gold Coast was doing it at that level."

Ali Archdeacon at Arche. Picture: Shirley Sinclair
Ali Archdeacon at Arche. Picture: Shirley Sinclair

Right next door, youngest daughter Ali has her finger on the pulse of hip new labels in luxe fashion for all the family, as well as jewellery, art and lifestyle pieces. Her newly opened Arche has seen a renaissance of a beautiful 1925 Queenslander that generations of surfing locals once called home.

"I've really minimised everything to try to have that aesthetic feel as well," Ali said of the revamped space.

Arche showcases all-Australian designers including Byron Bay, Sydney and Melbourne labels in a cutting-edge boutique.

Arche. Picture: Shirley Sinclair
Arche. Picture: Shirley Sinclair

Some of the hard-to-find names such as Bec & Bridge, Elka Collective, Arthur Apparel, The Beach People, Rue Stiic, Will & Bear and Dylan Kain take pride of place on these racks.

Ceramics, beauty and skincare plus luxury Italian handbags join the hand-picked fashion designers in linen and other timeless pieces to emphasise the cool lifestyle appeal, while items such as leather jackets, eyewear, Amber Sceats jewellery, Senso Shoes and selected art ensure an edgier aspect.

"There's nothing like this on the Gold Coast," Ali said. "You can create your whole outfit here."

Ali, who was a store buyer and boutique sales manager in Australia while studying psychology for five years, completed her degree in New York where she realised her true passion for fashion.

Inside Arche. Picture: Shirley Sinclair
Inside Arche. Picture: Shirley Sinclair

Donna said Ali's strength was having an eye for "what's next".

"She's finding brands before they achieve their full potential," Donna said.

While Arche is a play on her surname, Ali said the word also came from early Greek philosophy and meant "a primal element" or "original", which will become even more apt when she soon launches her own fashion line.

Baskk at Kirra Point. Picture: Shirley Sinclair
Baskk at Kirra Point. Picture: Shirley Sinclair

Back on the hospitality side of things, eldest daughter Brie continued the family passion, moving on to be an innovator at Baskk at Kirra Point in 2017.

Their vision to host "long lunches by the sea" has grown into a sophisticated "barbecue by the beach" over the past three years at the restaurant opposite Coolangatta Surf Club, which they opened on Donna's 50th birthday.

The Moroccan-style Rum Bar. Picture: Shirley Sinclair
The Moroccan-style Rum Bar. Picture: Shirley Sinclair

Her creative direction has seen the addition to the back of the restaurant of the on-trend Rum Bar with a Moroccan flavour.

An electronic kiosk in the Rum Bar allows patrons to "skip the queue" with priority on their drinks and a facility to payWave to pay for the order.

The Rum Bar intimate party space proved a popular addition to southern Gold Coast night life over the festive period, adding to the Baskk appeal and welcoming more than 300 people in a night on occasion.

While Baskk already boasts 42 cocktails on the menu, customers can choose to upscale and customise their drinks using an iPad on every table.

Baskk cocktails. Picture: Shirley Sinclair
Baskk cocktails. Picture: Shirley Sinclair

Pictures help them create, for example, a watermelon mojito with vanilla vodka. Or maybe a lychee passionfruit martini using the customer's favourite Belvedere vodka. Or perhaps a margarita with coconut tequila.

Baskk also offers a special attraction for large groups and events with some great share board menus and canapes to mingle beachfront.

The Archdeacons have brought their special touch to the southern Gold Coast foodie scene through their world travels.

A barbecued seafood treat at Baskk. Picture: Shirley Sinclair
A barbecued seafood treat at Baskk. Picture: Shirley Sinclair

Steve said these food sojourns were an opportunity to try the traditional cooking methods of various cultures, then adopt and adapt the best tastes to the Australian palate.

They have installed a pizza oven for their pizzas and bread, improved hamburger cooking styles after dining at some of the best burger joints in America, added octopus to the menu after trying it on the Camino Walk in Spain, and have revamped barbecued lamb after discovering South America was "the best place to eat it".

Haloumi skewers. Picture: Shirley Sinclair
Haloumi skewers. Picture: Shirley Sinclair

The secret to their success, however, remains having an ability to keep it simple: striving for the freshest and best ingredients, listening to customers and giving them something even they don't know they want yet - until they taste it.

A Baskk tasting plate. Picture: Shirley Sinclair
A Baskk tasting plate. Picture: Shirley Sinclair

So whether it's adding honeycomb from local bees to their roast beetroot and goats cheese salad, sourcing oysters from Wallace Lake near Gosford and Fremantle octopus, slow cooking pulled brisket, or creating a seafood platter for two highlighting Mooloolaba king prawns, diners "Baskk" in the glow of a sunny Gold Coast day with the smell of saltwater in the air, an ocean view and a barbecue at the beach where they don't have to cook or clean up.

 

THE ARCHDEACONS' STORY

Baskk

52 Marine Parade, Coolangatta

Call (07) 5536 8136

Visit https://www.baskk.co/

 

Café Dbar

275 Boundary St, Coolangatta

Call (07) 5599 2031

Visit https://www.cafedbar.co/

 

Arche

275 Boundary St, Coolangatta

Call (07) 5535 2500

Visit https://arche.company