SoJo is actually quite a bit south of Johnston Street, not just south of it, as the name would suggest. In fact, the restaurant site is just south of Peel Street, but I guess SoPeel doesn't quite have the same ring to it. Or North of Langridge... NoLang?! Mmmmmyeahsoanyway...
Reasons I like SoJo
- It's walking distance from my house. Extremely important when you're a caffeine addict and have no car.
- It's spacious, so although it gets quite busy, you never have to wait too long for a table. (Plus, my housemate has a magic touch when it comes to waiting times: never exceeding 15 minutes! I know, right! Lucky, lucky.)
- There are private nooks, communal tables, and (undercover) outdoor areas.
- The venue is a converted warehouse, so it feels airy and light, even on dark days.
- It has the oddest mix of design features I've ever seen. There are massive stripey beach umbrellas perched upside-down over the main counter; pastel-coloured, country-style furniture and antique knick-knacks alongside clean lines and dark, modern colours; comfy lounge chairs and tidy booths; plates as wall decorations, funky lighting, and a large Sydney Harbour Bridge replica at one end. (So clearly there's no aversion here to Sydney like the rest of Melbourne seems to have.) I wasn't sure about it all at first, but now I think it works somehow.
- The staff are generally friendly and smiley.
- It's far enough away from Smith Street that you don't get annoying customers (i.e. clueless visitors to the area, chromers loitering outside) - just local dwellers and workers, mainly.
- It seems to be open on most public holidays! YAY.
- The food is seriously tasty, there's loads of choice, and they don't try too hard to be weird and clever - still interesting, but not wanky.
- The coffee is good, and they use real chocolatey sprinkles on top of cappuccinos.
- You can hang out there for ages and no one minds.
- The soap in the bathrooms is niiiiiiiiice.
- I really like the music played (on the whole).
Things SoJo could do better
- The coffee. It ain't bad, but I personally find Supreme rather bland, and maybe it's extracted too quickly or something, but it just doesn't have enough kick for me! I usually have to ask for a strong one, or just end up getting two. Also, they serve it on the cooler side of warm here. Maybe time to step it up a bit, guys?!
- It's such a big space that sometimes I feel cold. Sad face.
- Apparently there's a doggie around, and I HAVEN'T MET HIM YET.
- That's all.
Update: 4 January 2014
I have met the doggie now! He's kinda bulldog-fierce looking, but pretty chilled out. Although he didn't much like our puppy (that we were minding) encroaching on his space. He hangs out in a corner of the little courtyard which opens onto the street. I didn't take a photo of the dog, but I did take another one of the coffee. Sorry.