Diamond Rozakeas’ latest café, Higher Ground, recently received an award for Australasia’s best-designed café. Late last year the café also won The Age Good Food Guide’s Best Cafe award, after only two months in operation.
For Diamond, it is the culmination of 10 years of seven-days-a-week, hard work.
Back in 2006, the Bachelor of Science graduate applied for a short-term position as a waitress at a new café, Apte, in Alphington. From there, she became a partner in the following six multi-award-winning venues: Liar Liar, Three Bags Full, Two Birds One Stone, Top Paddock, The Kettle Black and now Higher Ground.
Higher Ground opened in July 2016. With her partners, Nathan Toleman and Ben Clark, she took two years to transform the former 1892 power station at the end of Little Bourke Street into a stunning, multi-tiered café, which combines inclusivity with intimacy, as well as a brilliant menu, coffee and wine list.
In fact, to call it a café is to understate the cavernous space with its cathedral ceilings, vertical gardens, ‘theatrical’ kitchen and lobbyesque features.
For Diamond, the 10 rewarding years have passed quickly and with plenty of fun amid the rapid growth.
“My partners are like brothers, except there aren’t as many fights,” she jokes. “We complement each other, always consider everyone’s opinion and laugh a lot,” she says.
It seems to be a recipe for success.
Diamond attributes some of her success to her Greek heritage for hospitality.
“Food was always a conduit for family and friends. It’s all about service and genuine hospitality,” she says. “Look at how the Greeks are looking after the refugees who land in their villages. That’s the true mark of hospitality and filotimo. It’s in our blood.”
When she’s not working in or on the cafés, Diamond spends time in Aboriginal communities in central Australia, where she funds art and food programs.
Again, it’s all about giving back and service.