Grounds for community and creativity

Written by Kerrie Alexander

We all know that the caffeine in coffee can really help kick start the day by increasing energy levels and put us in a good mood.

Now, one kind-hearted Hervey Bay barista has found a way to serve his brews with all this, plus a side of kindness, generosity, and care for the Hervey Bay community.

Meet Matt Suckling, the brainchild behind Operation Underground; a funky, chic, warehouse-style café on Bideford St, Torquay.

The former owner of The Front room moved away from the restaurant scene to focus more on his passion for coffee, which came to fruition with the opening of OU five months ago.

The smiley OU logo is intended to do just that, make people smile which is the character behind Matt’s business branding.

“I do believe that our job is not to just to make good coffee … it’s also to make people’s day a little bit better and that’s encompassed through conversation and the special moments of each day,” Matt said.

The concept isn’t just lip service. One of the unique ideas that Matt has implemented is the pay-it-forward initiative where customers can buy a coffee voucher and place it on the board for someone to else to receive a free coffee.

Each voucher comes with a personalised message for the recipient, who could simply be having a bad day, forgot their wallet, can’t afford to buy one themselves, or just needs some kindness to brighten their day.

Matt said the response to the idea, originally thought of by a loyal customer, had been meet with overwhelming feedback.

“As soon as she (customer) told me about it I rushed down to Officeworks and got some pay-it-forward vouchers printed out and bought a board, which he had set up an hour after being told about it,” Matt said.

“The main reaction has been generosity from most of our customers and it goes to show the true nature of our customers, which is being community minded and quite generous in spirit.

“It is open to anyone that comes in that’s having a rough day, or maybe even forgot their wallet or whatever; if they want to grab a free coffee from the board then they are welcome to do that.

“A lot of visitors to Hervey Bay over Christmas really just thought it was great, and said they were going to take the idea back to their local café and implement it there as well.

“Who knows, it may spread from Operation Underground that little bit further.”

Matt also has a flair for creativity, which is evident in the surroundings of the café with a street-art style logo behind the counter, hard and soft furnishings, and a punk-grunge vibe with a “polished aesthetic”.

It’s the perfect setting for Matt’s open mic night once a month where he opens his doors to any creative cats who want to perform.

“Open mic night has proven to be a very successful event and I’m blown away by the amount of talent hidden away here in Hervey Bay.

“It’s been awesome to be able to create a space for that to be showcased.

“It’s open to anyone that likes to sing, read poetry or even if they just want to get up and scream for two minutes, you can do that,” he said with laugh.

“Just come along and express yourself.”

Follow the Operation Underground team on Facebook or Instagram.