Photos by Russell Ord & Mark Boskell.
We’ve been taking a few snaps lately for the crew at Sails Too. Thought you might like to hear their story. Meet Ryan Earle & Shae Dillon…
Can you introduce yourselves and tell us a little about your background?
I’m Ryan Earle, 32 years old now and have been a chef for the longest of my 2 careers. I worked through the chef levels in cities of Perth and London, then really caught the bug in kitchens in regional Spain, France and Norway. 4 years I spent cooking in Europe, before returning home to Perth to see my family and continue the trade.
I’m Shae Dillon, originally from Perth, moved here for a break from living in London. I lived in Dunsborough for 7 years & moved to run a local kitchen store. I then later met Ryan & became great friends. It was never the plan for me to manage both venues & work together. But as luck has it, we work really well together & its a good team.
What’s your connection with Margaret River?
Ryan: I used to visit from Perth often, the feeling of getting ‘down south’ from the city is one of relief and inspiration to those who know it. The surf and the wine brought me here, then some of the produce caught my attention, it’s a great town and region, as laid back or as active as you like. I fell in love with the town, and given the opportunity at Sails to do something new and original it was an easy move. I’ve since bought a house, and we have the 2 restaurants, so maybe one day I’ll be a local.
Shae: I holidayed in the South-west as a chid in Dunsborough until my teens. Again later with friends. My Aunty Ingrid used to run the Beauty Therapist here in Margaret River so I would come down often to visit. Obviously with age you come here for other reasons, the wine and the food, which offer something different to the Perth venues. Now all my family & friends live here throughout the south-west & its my home.
Tell us about the original Sails and how it evolved into Sails Too?
Ryan: My business partner, Ronald De Ruijter bought Sails café from the Smith brothers some 4 years ago, and kept trading this Margaret River icon while we made plans to breathe some life into the venue. The classic café traded 18 years on the main street, although popular – it needed some work. Originally we were set to build a roof over the courtyard, and trade breakfast, lunch and dinner. This changed when the restaurant space came up for lease. With respect to what many locals liked about the original café, we decided to keep the Sails name and add the ‘too’ (plural, also, to the future) as we re-branded.
Describe the Sails Too experience?
With the renovation, aside from a new kitchen & bar, we recycled as much as possible. Old jarrah window slats were clad to the bar / kitchen face. The tables are made from old Busselton jetty & Bunbury port sleepers, and the chairs are all ex roadside collection, re-upholstered. These combined with some Margaret River elements, the rammed earth and jarrah timber, compliment the raw steel and mix of salvaged furniture to create a great feel to the space. Our food is sourced locally too – The Garden Basket, Margaret River Gourmet Meats, Revive Health Foods, 34 Blue seafood, Margaret River Free Range Eggs, Cowaramup Bakery. We grow herbs and offer brunch all day, 7 days per week along with a lunch menu. Sails Too offers a casual dining experience, friendly table service, exceptional coffee, eggs in all versions, healthy food, hearty food, hangover cures, fresh juices, smoothies, milkshakes, daily newspapers, a fresh flower market, laid back tunes, advice on tourist spots, advice on life, or just a chat… oh and free wi-fi. We have our own blend of coffee from Crema Coffee Roasters in Perth, which is beautiful. Trained baristas are key to our day to day service.
Is it a tough market in the main street of Margs? What do you have to do to stand out from the crowd?
For Sails Too, after the re-development of the café, with the inclusion of table service in an outdoor, relaxed environment, we stand out as we are a central café elevated in the main street. With the redesign of the furniture being quite retro & quirky, as well as the change in menu – being fresh & seasonal it brought more interest within locals & tourists. We still maintain and kept the regulars that came everyday daily to the new Sails Too. They still have the same seats with their own mugs which was very important to us. In my opinion there is nothing better than sitting outside under the sails on a beautiful sunny day with a coffee and good food. We have to stay ahead and keep these vital elements of the business fresh. I think with both of us together we have come up with some exciting plans for the summer to maintain this and give a little extra edge.
What’s in the future for Sails Too?
We’re looking forward to the season ahead. I think we have something a little different & with some changes ahead its exciting to see us grow & succeed.