26 April 2024

Yody cafe is a haven for afternoon coffee lovers and evening cocktail enthusiasts

| Shri Gayathirie Rajen
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Russell Pearson opened Yody on Baylis Street in November 2023.

Russell Pearson opened Yody on Baylis Street in November 2023. Photo: Shri Gayathirie Rajen.

From couch-surfing and finding love in Wagga to opening a new cafe/cocktail bar, Russell Pearson now calls the city home and is feeding locals delicious food and drinks.

Yody, located at 47 Baylis Street is a vibrant, dynamic venue championing local produce and making a rotating range of gourmet jaffles, house-pressed juices, shakes and coffee. According to Russell, Yody is one of the few places in town that offers coffee to those who finish work later in the afternoon and need a caffeine fix.

“I’m sticking around for those people who are looking to grab a quick cup in the arvo,” Russell said. “I’m opening reliably from 7 am to 5 pm while most places close at 2 pm or 3 pm.”

“I’m pushing until 8 pm on Fridays and Saturdays for the alcohol trade side of things.”

Born and raised in Albury, Russell entered the hospitality sector as soon as he left school. He started as an apprentice chef at 18 in Canberra and also worked in Melbourne, his home city and Wagga to help a friend open Zambrero a decade ago before returning to Canberra.

He worked his way around many roles before becoming an owner-operator in November 2023.

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Russell always loved working in and around the drinks sector.

“Cocktail is one of my strengths and I’ve worked in some pretty fancy places in the past,” he said.

“I was looking to get into drinks but because of the venue and with my application still getting organised, I decided to open and operate a stable cafe … use the cafe as a base and eventually expand.

“I first got a great secondhand refurbished [commercial coffee] machine and got coffee from Art of Espresso … couldn’t think of anyone better. My preference and style of coffee – dark Italian roast.”

The cafe owner worked with Adrian from Art of Espresso to create an exclusive Yody blend which Russell said was a hit with his customers. Some even grabbed a few bags to take home.

Russell said the original three offerings at Yody were great coffee, cold press juices and jaffles.

“Not many people do those [cold-pressed juices] … and I got a pretty serious jaffle iron to make gourmet jaffles.

“I do a lot of the cooking in-house with my chef background, from cooking lamb to sandwich chicken cooked in a pressure cooker. I make pesto from scratch and I do my own blend of cheese as well.

“It’s a simple cafe fare, with high standard execution.”

Russell Pearson

Russell offers great coffee, jaffles, and cold-pressed juices at Yody. Photo: Supplied.

The small business owner was pleased to gain his liquor licence just before Christmas 2023 and with his connections in Canberra he can offer regional NSW and SA boutique wines.

Russell moved to Wagga in 2020 from Canberra and was couch-surfing when the hospitality industry took a hit during COVID-19.

He was working at Meccanico and Pastorale and helped his friend manage Zambrero again.

“From there I was scouting different locations for my place to try and enter into the market in some form or fashion,” he said.

“I just knew I had to get my skin in the game.

“When I saw the location that was previously operating as a cafe, I took the leap of faith and jumped in … it was challenging. I had to do a lot of the interior work to get it up to opening it myself.”

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Russell is thankful to the people and businesses around him for showing him support.

“They are all very kind to me and direct businesses to me. The clientele themselves are a growing base of regulars,” he said.

“I feel my presence on Google search is pretty high. So far there’s only been five-star reviews. I get a resounding positive response from the people.”

Yody is located at 47 Baylis Street, Wagga Wagga. They’re open from 7 am to 5 pm Sunday to Thursday, and 7 am until 8 pm on Friday and Saturday. Keep up with them via their website, Facebook page or Instagram page.

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