G'Day, Frisco!Feb 01, 2020 ● By Dawn Bluemel Oldfield
These two young Australian expats met while working together for Mr. Monforte’s family food service company Global Food and Wine many years ago. With the opening of The Aussie Grind, they have transplanted their brightly-colored cooking and mellow lifestyle to Frisco by featuring Australian-inspired breakfast and lunch dishes with a twist. The couple’s cooking style features a fusion of bright, simple, but sophisticated foods that are healthful, natural and delicious. Yelp even announced The Aussie Grind as No. 30 of 100 top places to eat in 2020!
“The Aussie food scene is an ever-changing and innovative industry. Owners are always in search of the next menu change and food trend to keep customers happy and their business relevant. It is not unusual for cafes and restaurants to have menu influences from the vast cultures that occupy Australia, and many businesses strive to have produce as local as possible,” the Monfortes share about the dining scene in Australia. “Our shop is a reflection of the Aussie cafe scene back home. Aussie food is indicative of our rich, multicultural history. We have adopted so many meals and culinary tastes from immigrants who moved to Australia many years ago and developed a fusion that is exciting and also pleasing to the eye.”
Adventurers at heart, the Monfortes combined their love of travel and food when they decided to move to Texas about two years ago to open a restaurant. Mrs. Monforte says, “We have always loved traveling to the U.S., but after a vacation to Texas in 2017, we fell in love and thought it was definitely for us!” After much research, the couple decided on Frisco as their home base because of the huge influx of people and cultures from different walks of life. “It feels a bit like back home,” she adds.
Moving to America was always a dream for the couple and they feel fortunate to have the opportunity to call Frisco home. “Even in the short time we have been living here, we have met so many amazing and supportive people and feel like part of the community! It is a great feeling, and we cannot wait to see what this adventure brings us. We still have moments where we say to each other ‘can you believe we live here now?’”
The Aussie Grind is not this couple’s first rodeo, however. Mrs. Monforte smiles and says, “Previously, before moving to Texas, we had a cafe in Australia for eight years named ‘Honour Espresso.’ Unfortunately, we reached the end of our lease, which meant the closure of that business. This was one of the biggest motivators for us to move over here, as it would have been near impossible to have a shop running in Australia while operating one here. The two of us and our cat, Mike, moved here in June last year, which involved several trips back and forth to Australia for the immigration process. We love to travel and are passionate about food, drink and culture.”
Between the two of them, the couple has spent more than 35 combined years in hospitality, and they each have seen so many trends come and go. Mr. Monforte says, “We think it is very important to be fluid and able to identify what is hot and to put your own spin on it to differentiate from the competition and keep your regulars happy.”
At The Aussie Grind, brekky and lunch are served all day. Mrs. Monforte shares, “Menu favorites include avocado toast, breakfast gnocchi, hot cakes, fish and chips and prawn linguine.” With quality crafted meals and substantial portions (be sure to save room for one of Mrs. Monforte’s homemade desserts), you will not go away hungry!
While still fairly new to North Texas, the Monfortes have quickly become involved in the Frisco community, participating in many outreach programs. Mrs. Monforte says, “To date, we have contributed many gift vouchers for local school and sporting fundraising events. We feel strongly about the homelessness in the Dallas/Fort Worth area and will be focusing attention on helping this cause in the near future. So far, we have been overwhelmed by the support we have received from the community and could not be happier with our progress in supporting the community.”
With so many Texas cities receiving accolades as rising stars in the culinary world, why choose Frisco? Mrs. Monforte explains, “We decided on Frisco as our first location as we thought there was a hole in the market for a restaurant where you could grab a fresh breakfast and craft coffee in the same place. Preston Road in Frisco suited us perfectly, as we wanted to be in a high exposure spot to help us build our brand identity. Additionally, our philosophy in business and life has always been that we treat our staff and patrons like they are part of our family. We strive to build lifelong relationships with everyone we come in contact with. We are as ethical as possible (even at times to the detriment of us), as we would rather have our staff and guests happy. Our goal as business owners is to be able to expand to more locations in the near future, while maintaining our personality and uniqueness.”
While the Monfortes are thrilled to be in Frisco, they do miss family and friends back home, as well as some of the foods they grew up with, which can be hard to find in the states. “The last few months have been harder on us with all the bushfires going on in Australia. We have had family and friends directly affected and it is devastating. We are doing what we can from over here, but you do feel helpless and want to be there to help out with any support we can give,” the couple shares.
When it comes to food and drink, the couple loves to experiment, take risks, improvise and savor. The couple says, “We test boundaries and have fun doing it. Texans and Australians share values, lifestyles and philosophies. It makes perfect sense that we share the best we can offer in the best place on the planet – Texas. Our menu is lively, innovative, boisterous and full-flavored. It is adventurous, yet proven, and we are very proud to share it with you, our Texas mates. Cheers!”