Co-Founder, Tall Short Espresso
It's the little guys who you don't see coming that you need to look out for. Craig Thompson is one of those guys. Perhaps short in stature, but certainly punching above his weight with his unique and funky cafe concept behind the successful Tall Short Espresso brand.
What's the story behind your business? | Tall Short Espresso is a cafe business that I started with an old friend from university, Anthony Perry. I'm 5'4" and he towers over me at 6'5", so it didn't take us long to come up with a name for our business that says something about us.
Anthony and I became good mates while we were both studying commerce. We graduated together, completed our CA programs together and both went on to work in large accounting firms. It wasn't until we were in the middle of our travels, while working in the United Kingdom and Europe, that we decided to make the big call and start our own cafe business together. And, here we are.
How did you manage to start a successful cafe with no prior hospitality experience? | Having no prior experience in hospitality has actually given us the opportunity to approach this industry quite differently. We weren't weighed down by convention. Early on, we both put in a lot of hard work in getting our ideas off the ground and establishing some good cash flow. One of our first ideas, which has become our mascot for Tall Short Espresso, is our 1969 red VW Kombi Van that we bought. In nine months, we restored it, painted it and turned it into a mobile cafe that wasn't tied down to any one location in Brisbane. In business, you need to be one of three things - better, cheaper or different. If we wanted to compete with the large, established businesses already out there, then we needed to be different.
" In business, you need to be one of three things - better, cheaper or different."
We managed to set ourselves apart, but we also knew how important it was to simplify our business model. Anthony and I were both inspired by cafes we saw throughout London, Sweden and Melbourne. They were all very minimalist, fuss-free and boiled their offerings down to a handful of things. We have eight items on our menu at Tall Short Espresso, but we make those eight items exceptionally well. People come here to enjoy the consistency and simplicity of our service.
If you knew back then what you know now, is there anything you would’ve done differently? | We would have done things faster and more aggressively, especially after seeing firsthand how well our business has been received in the market. People can come into Tall Short Espresso and please themselves - our menu is simple, our coffee is delicious, the seating is casual and moveable and the prices are fair and reasonable.
What’s next in the pipeline for Tall Short? | We'd really love to see the Tall Short banner around town. We've been settled in Paddington for 14 months now and we already have our sights set on a few new locations that we have penciled in. We'd also like to grow the bar side of our business and expand into the local social scene. Stay tuned.
What is the one piece of advice you would like to pass on to other entrepreneurs? | That's simple - be confident in yourself and believe in your business.