Hamlet is a delightful social enterprise café that not only provides tasty food, but is also helping people get practical experience, skills and confidence to enable them to get employment.

Our interview

Originally published on 19 February 2020.

Fun fact, the name Hamlet is not a Shakespearean reference, but rather comes from the English term meaning a small settlement without a church. As CEO/Owner Emily tells us, “we heard that word and it just stuck for us, we felt like it really represented what we were trying to do here. Essentially what Hamlet is trying to do is build communities.”

This social enterprise provides participants, who traditionally face barriers when trying to get employment, with an environment to up-skill to a point where they can then find employment opportunities. In particular, Hamlet works with three cohorts, including those who have low levels of English, those who are long-term unemployed and those who have the presence of a disability.

For most of the participants who come through here, it’s not just about feeling like their earning a living, it’s about feeling like they have a purpose in their community and that they’re giving back; and these are people who are facing some pretty extreme disadvantages in their lives.

Starting the journey 6 years ago in Melbourne, Emily was working at Kinfolk, a social enterprise café run by her brother. This is where Emily fell in love with the concept of social enterprise.

Her journey then took her to Hobart to take up a role in the kitchen when Franklin restaurant was opening its doors.

“I had only been to Hobart once prior to taking the job down here, but as people do, I fell in love with the place”, tells Emily. She became aware of the long-term unemployment that was present in the state and so started the journey towards Hamlet.

“There is an expectation that people need a level of experience in order to get a job, but often there isn’t an opportunity to get that initial experience. Particularly for disadvantaged individuals. Hamlet allows them to get this experience as we teach them a wide variety of skills in either our front-of-house or our kitchen programs.”

Hamlet has helped 101 people get employment as a result of the programs!

Emily is super passionate about her role and it shows when she describes past participants. “One particular participant had severe social anxiety when first starting here. He would stand in the corner for his first 3 shifts and wouldn’t make eye contact with anyone. But bit-by-bit, he came out of his shell. He has since gone on to find full-time employment and is doing so incredibly well”, said Emily.

Emily also credits the success of Hamlet to the quality of the coffee and food. ‘Cam, our chef, is so creative. He comes up with inspiring dishes using local produce. He also loves to preserve our foods to ensure we get the best produce, even in winter’, says Emily.

Cam has pickled/stewed/bottled over 200kg of fruit in just 3 weeks!

The menu here is locally-sourced where possible, including many of their fruits and vegetables which come from gardens in South Hobart and West Hobart. The key items on the menu don’t change, such as the toastie, wrap and Buddha bowl, but the fillings will change depending on what’s in season.

Hamlet has also recently opened up a catering arm, after being successful with a Tasmanian Community Fund grant, allowing them to open up the option for afterhours work for participants.

“We can now accommodate up to 8 people per day to get experience. Often the afterhours work is a good starting program for people who may be really anxious about a café environment because it is much quieter. The participants also get to know the staff and space prior to then moving over to a front-of-house or kitchen position”, says Emily.

What’s more, the catering is delivered by the fabulous team at Shifter Cargo all on bicycles. So you get your food and it’s good for the environment!

If you are looking to take a bit of Hamlet home with you, you will find a selection of condiments available for sale too. From jams to relishes and house-made kimchi – these also make the perfect gift.

Hamlet is located at the end of the Hobart rivulet track at 40 Molle Street, Hobart.

Parking in the car park next to Hamlet is free on weekends, with plenty of on-street parking weekdays.