In celebration of International Women’s Day, WA Good Food Guide talks with three female owner-operators who have created inspiring community-centric hospitality hotspots. 

From Hinata Cafe, a homestyle Japanese cafe by Tomoe Echo featuring shufu (housewife) cooking, to Teeter Bakery, a tiny unconventional bake shop run by Natasha Brownfield in industrial East Perth. To the pop-up Douzaine Oyster Bar, dreamed up by teacher Jacqui Snyder and doctor Odetta Davison. These women are not following a formula but rather leading in fresh ways to make hospitality in Perth a success.

Teeter Bakery

In an industrial area where you would expect to find a simple deli lunch bar, Teeter Bakery brings high-quality seasonal baked cakes, pastries and gourmet salad sandwiches to the surrounding workers and businesses in East Perth. It’s Pastry Chef Natasha Brownfield’s first venture after a decade of working across a number of cafes and restaurants in Perth. “We are facilitating a space for people to break up their work day, to unwind and have a little treat that picks them up,” says Brownfield. “On the weekends, it becomes a space for people to meet with their friends and family to have coffee and cake to kick off the weekend.” 

Preorders of pastries and cakes can be collected from Wednesday to Saturday with its door open to walk-ins from Thursday to Saturday to take home their small batch range of pastries, cakes and savouries that often sell out before closing. “People still ask us why we are only open for three days. They ask me if I have another job,” says Brownfield with a smile. “We operate six days a week; we come in over various days to prep, bake cakes and roll out all the croissants, and that’s just the time it takes to get a good product on the shelf.” She adds, “It allows us to do all the birthday cake orders and then the sandwiches, pastries and quiche without scrambling because we are not doing a busy cafe service.”

Teeter Bakery celebrated its first birthday in February 2024—one year since Brownfield jumped on the opportunity to take over the lease of the gelato production facility she had been using in off-peak hours. Without a solid business plan, she adds, “I can’t imagine going into something knowing exactly what it was going to be. It can evolve, and I think that’s why I liked the name Teeter—things aren’t fixed.”

Brownfield believes everyone can connect with baked goods, recounting a sweet experience on Valentine’s Day. “I made these special cream buns for friends and lovers, and some guys in hardhats walked over from the concrete factory and bought six of these cream buns. They told me they were going to share it around with the blokes.” It’s just one example of when culinary meets community can have a positive effect. 

Teeter Bakery brings high-quality seasonal baked cakes and gourmet salad sandwiches to East Perth

Douzaine Oyster Bar

“We’re here for a good time. Not a long time,” says Odetta Davison, one-half of Douzaine Oyster Bar, a venue that began as a three-month pop-up in Fremantle from January to March 2024, sparked by Jacqui Snyder’s trip to the south of France and the duo’s mutual love for simple European hospitality.

“Both of us relish human connection around beautiful things,” says Davison. “Oysters are a perfect offering; there’s a ritualisation around eating oysters.” 

As their first venture together, Snyder and Davison had a tiny operation in mind for Douzaine and didn’t imagine they would need additional staff. Occupying a once-vacant building on Cantonment Street with a minimal fit-out, a few basic wooden fold-out tables and chairs scattered outside their tree-lined alfresco area, and a long shared bench inside where everyone can see all the oyster-shucking action. The two-person operation had to expand along with the community’s welcoming reception with additional shuckers recruited from their loyal customer base. 

“We’ve got Hiro, who was here on opening weekend. Because Odetta engages with everyone, we learnt he is a fishmonger and shucked oysters,” says Snyder. “He’s now committed to doing this every Saturday for us.”

As Douzaine was launched as a passion project, making money was not high on Snyder and Davison’s agenda. This meant that they could keep the focus of their pop-up on how to serve the community. “We wanted to make everything is affordable as possible,” says Davison, with half a dozen oysters priced at $20 and a dozen for $40. “It’s BYO, so it means that people can drink at whatever level they can afford and having a limited food menu means that people don’t have to make a lot of decisions, which allows the focus to be on having a great time together,” says Snyder. 

“People ask us every day, what’s next for you guys? Surely, you’re not closing. This has been the most beautiful learning curve and experience for us. It’s okay for it just to be that,” says Snyder. 

The pop-up doesn’t have the usual pressures and stresses of hospitality, “but I hope that our business has been complimentary to others in Fremantle, and one of our favourite things is to send our customers elsewhere after they’ve been here,” she adds.

Jacqui Snyder and Odetta Davison of Douzaine Oyster Bar

Hinata Cafe

Tomoe Echo became a cafe owner in her late 40s when she was a single parent with no savings. “But it’s never too late to follow your dreams, and it’s okay to make mistakes,” she says.

Hinata means a ‘sunny spot’ in Japanese and the cafe is renowned for its warm hospitality that extends from the cheery service to how the food is presented on the plate. “I often ask staff sending out a dish if they have put love in it. Did you put this cabbage on [the stove] with love? Can we balance with more colour?” says Echo. “My concept is more than food. It is a connection with people.”

The homestyle Japanese food at Hinata Cafe serves the Japanese community in Perth and beyond to a loyal fanbase. “The third and fourth generation Japanese, or half/mixed heritage who don’t really know homestyle food,” says Echo of her clientele. “They can remember some tastes of their grandma’s food, but they don’t know how to make it.” To the people who once lived in Japan and experienced omotenashi, a form of care hospitality, “those people are getting older, and they are coming to Hinata to remember that feeling.”

Hinata Cafe’s location at the Fremantle Fibonacci Centre, a mixed-use community space in a large old purple building, might differ from where you expect to find a wholesome Japanese eatery. The decor feels mismatched with an assortment of vintage furniture, colourful cushions, and gingham tablecloths, but to Echo, “it is a matter of feeling like a home. I can’t relax in a square white place and a white tablecloth. This imperfection is perfect for me.”

Running a small business with little hospitality experience, Echo has been challenged with money matters. During a recent conversation with her son, who manages Echo’s accounts, the reality hit that she was not working for her future but for people’s wages. “Was I really making money? No. It was always for my heart. I really enjoy ikigai (a Japanese term meaning “a reason to live”). That was my purpose for living,” says Echo. “It’s hard, but I’m also having fun, and I won’t give up as long as I have fun.” 

Hinata Cafe at the Fremantle Fibonacci Centre

While Echo encourages everyone to follow their dreams, one thing she wants to pass on to people who wish to have a hospitality business is that “you really have to set up your professionalism to make money.” The ability to work towards her goal and share Japanese culture feels like a privilege when other women around the world are experiencing suffering and war. This sentiment underpins the special event Echo has organised for International Women’s Day at Hinata Cafe on Friday, 8 March, to provide space for women to share their heritage in their cultural attire and celebrate diversity in the community with compassion, with all profits going to Save the Children

Read more: State of play: How women are driving change in hospitality

Back to News & Articles