Golden coffee and customers at Toast

Cultural Heart People of Adelaide

The crunch that echoes from a golden toastie is enough to stop people in their tracks. That's why you'll find people streaming toward Toast on Bank Street, owned and operated by Helen Carpentieri. This store has been in the hands of the Carpentieri family for an astounding 16 years, although it has worn many hats — barber shop, sandwich shop, hairdresser, pie shop... now superb cafe.

Helen shares her mantra and insight into why they've gained the loveliest customers.

What should anyone new to Toast order?

"For any new customers who come here, I recommend that they start with a coffee, and then a toasty. Everyday, we do specials - a coffee and toasty combo - it's a pretty good deal at $10 - you're not going to get that anywhere [laughs]. And the coffee's great!"

What makes Toast different?

"What makes us different is... 95% of what we sell, we make here in-house, bar the croissants and bread. Everything else, made in-house. We also cater for quite a variety of dietary needs like, vegan to gluten-free. And you know, there's quite a big range to choose from. That's what makes us different."

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Toast caters for a variety of dietary needs, with many vegan and gluten-free options.

Tell us about your customers - who comes in here?

"We've got a wide range of customers from corporate people, commuters coming off the train on their way to work, people coming to the footy, tourists.... though not many of them now... a wide range of people. We always say this, we just love all our customers that come here. Even my staff say this, we just have a really good range of customers. We just love them all. We get a lot of vegans, and non-vegans - they tend to buy vegan food because I think people have the wrong perception of vegan food as well. They think it's tasteless but once they've tried it they realise that it is really tasty! It's made with love [laugh]."

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Hot coffees and warm smiles are the go at Toast cafe

What makes a good cup of coffee?

"A good cup of coffee.... milk, for one... good beans... and a knowledgeable barista."

How did Toast come about to be located in Adelaide?

"We've been here for 16 years, in total. It wasn't like this before - this has been about 2 years since we did a makeover. 

But we have changed over in the years as well, just to keep up with trends and what's around.

It's quite competitive around here too. We first started off as a little pie shop, selling Vili's [pies] - sold every single pie here. Then we went on to become a sandwich bar and then to this, where it's more specialised in coffee. And it seems to be working really well now. We've seen the change down this street [over the years].

The changing landscape has been excellent - it's brought more people into this part of the city. Before people would avoid coming down Bank Street because it was really grungy looking and old. Now we have a lot more people sitting in, having lunch. It's become more of a hangout also. Bank Street has a really nice vibe and we get a lot of people sitting in having lunch, so it's got a great atmosphere. We love it!"

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Helen Carpentieri and family have been business owners on Bank Street for sixteen years

You've been here for 16 years!? That's amazing, what's the story ?

"It goes back even longer than that because my husband actually started his barber shop here - he was a barber/ hairdresser by trade. It wasn't even this, it wasn't a food place at all! He was here for about 4 years and he got sick of barbering - he's been doing that since he was 16 - and then we decided just to turn it into a food place! So we decided to just do a complete flip around and turn it into a Vili's pie shop. It was like a little pie cart.... I know, it's a crazy story, isn't it? [laughs]"


19 Bank St, Adelaide