Who Is Henry Saw?

An Interview with Toby Brown.

Words By: Freya Hall

I can’t believe Henry Saw eluded me for so long. Situated in Grand Lane in Perth’s CBD, this little café is 30 meters from my place of work. Okay, so the cafe has only been open for two months, but from my perspective that is two months of Henry Saw lunches that I’ve missed out on. A travesty.

Grand Lane has undergone a renaissance in recent years; what used to be a dingy alley now boasts an array of interesting characters such as the eponymous and ever-popular Toastface Grillah and the City of Perth’s Light Lockers. Henry Saw fits in perfectly with its new neighbours; nestled between pot plants and covered in greenery, it is the oasis that city slickers needed, just meters away from the bustle of Murray Street Mall.

So this article is my gift to you, workers of the CBD. No longer do you have to search aimlessly for your caffeine hit on your fifteen-minute lunch break; no longer will you be forced to make the rushed decision to buy stale sushi and then feel disappointed in yourself the rest of the day; and no longer do you need to eat food court cardboard. Henry Saw is here to ease your hunger blues.

Oh, and did I mention it’s vegan? Personally, I would recommend the toasted hummus wrap, but I am also dying to try one of their famous pies.

Already a fan of the food, and eager to learn more, I got in contact with one of the masterminds behind the cafe, Toby Brown, to find out ‘who is Henry Saw?’

Hey Toby, so tell me about the name Henry Saw? How did you come up with it?

We named the café after an early Perth merchant called Henry Saw.  History tells us that Henry was the first man to roast coffee in Perth in 1852.  He had a small shop on Hay Street and bought a coffee roaster by ship from England.

We needed a name that linked coffee and the history of the city together.  So it was perfect.  I discovered the story of Henry Saw quite by accident.  There is a plaque dedicated in his honour in the ground at the top of the Plaza Arcade.  After visiting the soon to be café site I was chatting with a business partner as we strolled along the mall.  I looked down at the right moment and saw the plaque and the rest, as they say, is history.

I’ve read that Henry Saw is the little sister (or more aptly, the little brother) café of Babooshka in Northbridge, how are the cafes connected?

One of the partners in the Henry Saw business is also the owner of Babooshka – Jimmy the Exploder.  Jimmy runs our social media and is also the guy I have to thank for introducing me to Reece Harley who is the driving force behind the Museum of Perth project who we share the Grand Lane space with.

Tell me about the Museum of Perth, do you collaborate or coexist in the Grand Lane building?

The Museum of Perth is a cool little contemporary museum space that is all about Perth.  Currently they are featuring a display about the chronological history of the city, the history of Barrack Street, and they also have a micro-cinema playing interesting movies of bygone eras and stories of Perth identities and characters.  Henry Saw helps pay a portion of the rent for the space, and in turn the Museum brings in a different demographic for us to make coffee for, and to introduce to our awesome ethical food.

Why vegan friendly?

We are vegan friendly because, as vegans ourselves, we knew there was a distinct lack of ethical food options in the CBD.  We are working hard to continually bring new vegan products to the CBD by collaborating with likeminded people such as the teams from Raw by Chris, Gypsy Elixir, Loving Hut and a couple of young vegan bakers. Working with such a small space we’ve kept our range small so we can focus on providing great quality vegan food in addition to awesome coffee from Blacklist Coffee Roasters.