The Dakdak Cafe: VW Dining

By: Steve Nally, Photography by: Steve Nally

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The Dakdak Cafe The Dakdak Cafe The Dakdak Cafe
The Dakdak Cafe The Dakdak Cafe The Dakdak Cafe
The Dakdak Cafe The Dakdak Cafe The Dakdak Cafe
The Dakdak Cafe The Dakdak Cafe The Dakdak Cafe
The Dakdak Cafe The Dakdak Cafe The Dakdak Cafe
The Dakdak Cafe The Dakdak Cafe The Dakdak Cafe
The Dakdak Cafe The Dakdak Cafe The Dakdak Cafe
The Dakdak Cafe The Dakdak Cafe The Dakdak Cafe
The Dakdak Cafe The Dakdak Cafe The Dakdak Cafe
The Dakdak Cafe The Dakdak Cafe The Dakdak Cafe

If you're looking for a car-themed diner that serves something other than a double helping of cheese, Melbourne's DakDak Cafe delivers...

The Dakdak Cafe: VW Dining
The Dakdak Cafe

 

The Dakdak cafe

VEE DUB DINING

Car-themed cafes are nothing new, but they generally pay homage to the ‘50s and are heavy on jukebox, ’57 Chev and Happy Days styling. The Dakdak Cafe makes a nice change from that beloved era, while still heaping on the nostalgia and retro ambience. And yes, it’s dedicated to all things Volkswagen.

The brain child of Vee Dub buff, Ben Cowen, the Dakdak Cafe is located in an industrial estate in suburban Moorabbin, in Melbourne’s south, and has been created in a workshop that was once part of the SAAS steering wheel factory and an auto transmission repair shop. So it already comes with good car karma.

For Cowen, who has a background in film and video production and set design as well as hospitality, it’s also a place to store a memorabilia collection that has outgrown his home. Decor? Think Laminex tables, vinyl chairs, vintage sofas and faux grass flooring with a dash of tiki bar, ‘60s kitsch and speed-shop grunge thrown in for good measure.

Old metal workshop shelves heaving with Volkswagen parts and accessories, share wall space with an original ‘60s VW dealer sign, a chequered Beetle bonnet and other retro nicknacks. And there are die-cast models, a bar-fridge full of old gauges, period posters, Ben’s ever-expanding Esky collection and collectible pedal cars, but the piece de resistance has to be a 1963 Viscount Ambassador caravan that has been converted into the kitchen.

For Cowen, Dakdak was a new adventure: "I’d just spent a year running a pub on an island off Townsville and I thought about what made me happy – Volkswagens, good food, quality coffee – and it was a no-brainer to put them all in the one package. And I always knew Moorabbin had potential.

"It was an empty shell when we moved in, we had to do everything. The idea behind the caravan was to build a mobile food van so if the cafe didn’t go well I could tow it and work from it. And it’s a bit of Australiana. The cafe is meant to feel like your Aussie backyard or a summer holiday and I also wanted it to be an oasis for local factory workers."

With its laid-back atmosphere, bespoke ‘40-horsepower-blend’ coffee and an eclectic menu (try chef Anna Higgins’ excellent pulled pork and coleslaw bun with hand-cut chips), the Dakdak Cafe has been a success from the day it opened a year ago. It’s open Monday to Saturday and available for functions. It’s easy to find, the small car park out the front is usually crammed with Volkswagens.

The Dakdak Cafe is located at
3/1 Bignell Rd,
Moorabbin
Phone 03 9532 2749
Hours - Mon-Sat 7am to 3pm
www.dakdakcafe.com

'BEETLE' BEN COWEN

My first cars were Beetles, a ’74 1300 and chop-top convertible ‘sardine can’, which I brought to Melbourne when I moved from Hobart. After that I got into muscle cars: a 351 Falcon XY ute, then started buying XA and XB Falcon coupes, utes and panel vans. But when that market got silly I bought two Volkswagen 1600 sedans, a ’65 and a ‘70. Two became four and then six and Volkswagens have come and gone for the last five years. I actually sold my low-number XA Superbird to buy an unfinished 1952 Beetle Deluxe ‘splittie’, sight unseen, and there’s only 30 of them in the country, if that.

"I’m into cars more from an aesthetic than a mechanical aspect. I’m more into the people around them and the culture, that’s what makes me passionate about old cars. Beetles are a great expression of one person’s uniqueness. You can park 30 Beetles in a row and I can guarantee all 30 will be different."

 

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