Who is Percy Plunkett? Sydney's 'Best in the West' Cafe
13 February, 2020
Phil Hallani is as Penrith as they come. Born and bred, and together with his business partner, Jake Faragher, he opened his first business there in May 2018, Penrith’s local, the café baring the name Percy Plunkett.
"I knew there was a demand for it. And Penrith deserved it”
For as long as he can recall, Phil has aspired to open his own café. But one cannot help but feel that Percy Plunkett is as much
about Penrith, and his connection to its community, as it is about this ambition. Being historically blue-collar, and situated on Sydney’s outer suburban rim, a large-scale gentrification of Penrith would seem unlikely, even ill-fitting. However, the successes of cafes High Street Depot and Henri Marc was evidence compelling enough that an appreciation for quality café fare and specialty coffee is no less prevalent in Penrith, as Sydney’s inner-city areas more synonymous with such things. “Penrith was my home and I love Penrith. I knew there was a demand for it. And Penrith deserved it”. So arose the opportunity for Phil to give back to the community which gifted him so much, from childhood friends, sporting memories to his first job.
"What an honour it is to be able to have my dream business in what was once someone’s home"
A heritage cottage seems an appropriate setting for a community hub. Constructed in 1866, the property known as ‘Kentucky’ has a definite aura, fermented with age. It is a charm designer Matt Woods set out to protect and nurture, even accentuate, whilst giving the cottage a contemporary refresh. One cannot help but notice the emotional connection Phil has to the property, “the building has so much history. It’s had three owners. The Hollier family, the Plunketts and the Welsh family. What an honour it is to be able to have my dream business in what was once someone’s home.” The name ‘Percy Plunkett’ is a tribute to the property’s second, and most noteworthy owner, and there exists undeniable parallels between him, as a community figure, and the building’s most recent owner.
"I honestly struggled with everything. I had to learn everything from the start"
With Percy Plunket’s second birthday approaching, Phil’s vision for his café remains unaltered, being to “create amazing experiences for my guests, and always exceed expectations”. But, he is the first to acknowledge the journey has not been without tribulation, “I honestly struggled with everything. I had to learn everything from the start”, and credits “passion and obsession” for helping him get through “the tough moments”. The emotional pay-off has well and truly exceeded the investment, and he speaks with adoration of Percy’s impact on the community of Penrith, saying, “I love how we have built a cafe for Penrith and the community have responded. I love how guests have now become family. I love how my team are now my family. I love the fact we get an opportunity to makes thousands of people a week happy.”
It would be grossly unjust to close out this piece without some mention of perhaps Percy’s greatest drawcard, the brunch fare. The menu is populated by people-pleasers, honest and unpretentious dishes executed with a careful attention to detail. The Deepdish Pancake, complimented by butterscotch sauce, white chocolate mousse, caramelised banana, fresh berries and crusted pistachio is a ‘destination dish’ for those with a weakness for the sweet. TheCulinaryInsight’s pick of the savoury is the Slow Cooked Lamb Benedict, whilst Phil has put his name, quite literally, to the Fish and Chips.
Percy Plunkett has very much drawn it’s inspiration from the history of Penrith, both in the form of the physical space it occupies and the name it draws upon. The eatery's accomplishments over the past 18 months, in the form of the community it has built, is undoubtedly indicative that its future impact upon Penrith, and surrounding areas, will continue to be both significant and meaningful.
MON TO SUN : 7AM - 3PM
146 Station Street, Penrith