There are a lot of reasons to love the Swanbourne strip. Two for one Mondays at Pizza Lounge, for example, or newcomer Upper Hand’s American diner-style burgers. Stephen’s well-stocked IGA. Jeremy’s pies. The retro Women’s Weekly signage above Bower, or perhaps the woven items you’ll find inside. The latest reason to love it, though, is a place that speaks to the area’s sense of community and answers the call for a place to meet, sit, and while away time. That place is The Swanny Collective.
Ownership of the corner venue hasn’t changed, but it’s out with Edition and in with something a little more experimental. Initial plans were for a three month pop-up with a simple calling card – ‘coffee by day, pasta by night’ – to give way to a more permanent, all-day eatery, but co-owner Anthony Arnold (of Stable Hands and Up Town glory) didn’t want the space to go unused in the meantime.
In the brief interlude that was between closing Edition and opening the Collective, Arnold could be found in the space after dark, conducting a rather prudent renovation. All the furniture from Edition was recycled into the new space, either as is or as timber for fresh benchtops and floating walls.
“We all felt that the space was so underutilised,” Arnold says. “The location has so much potential to become an iconic venue, much like Vans in Cottesloe where they’re servicing the neighbourhood all day.”
The result? The Collective hasn’t lost the spaciousness that customers loved about Edition. Being totally open to the street-front, it’s a breezy spot abundant in natural light. Combine that with scattered greenery and lightweight furniture, and you’ve got a space where sitting for a few hours feels only natural.
On offer is coffee from Community Coffee Co by day, direct from the microroaster’s recently opened Subiaco headquarters, in which Arnold also has a hand. Alongside that is simple breakfast fare and on-the-go cabinet items. By night – and this is where Arnold gives a nod to future plans – punters can enjoy a selection of simple, home-style pasta dishes, with the carbs courtesy of Sal’s Pasta in Cottesloe.
“The future idea was to create an all-day operation, seven days a week. A stripped back café-restaurant vibe with three daily services,” says Arnold.
“But the way it’s been going as a pop-up is quite amazing really, so we are thinking of keeping it as the Collective and just building on it,” he says.
For Arnold, ‘building on it’ includes the possibility of hosting some Greek-inspired nights – and if his spit-roasted lamb souvlaki Friday lunch special at Community Coffee is anything to go by, this is good news for diners.
“We thought we’d just try a few different things and see if what we wanted to do would fit the neighbourhood,” Arnold says.
Regardless of how the venue develops, Arnold says that the community focus will remain key.
“What I’ve loved most about the pop-up, particularly with the nights, is the diverse age groups we’ve had coming in,” Arnold says. “That to me suggests that we’re on the right track.”
“A community venue needs to appeal to everybody,” he says.
Don’t expect things to change overnight. Arnold suggests he and his team have some decisions to make about how to best use the space into the future, and isn’t giving too much away in terms of what can be expected of the venue’s full expression.
“I can’t let the cat out of the bag just yet,” Arnold says. “But let’s just say that it’s definitely something that the wider community has been wanting in the area for some time.”