Craig Ferguson – or Ferg as he is known – along with his partner Jodie Beattie opened the 28Eighty Café in late October 2020 at the Broken Hill Airport in what he calls “the bad old days”.
“We opened in the bad old days, it was pretty smart move to open a business during that time,” he chuckles.
The Broken Hill Foundation made a decision in August that year, to help provide start-up funding for the new business.
Receiving a small interest free loan, the 28Eighty Café adapted what had been a kiosk for travellers, and at one point just a vending machine, into something that has truly impressed visitors and locals alike.
In addition to Craig and Jodie there are five other employees and soon they will be joined by their daughter, who is finishing year 12 and adding to the team.
Foundation funding was used to help produce the mural wall at the café. Ferg and Jodie encourage visiting celebrities and other visitors to have a photo taken on the wall.
“They have their photo taken there so that they can say they have been to Broken Hill, which also helps with our branding.
“The pictures are put up on our Facebook and Instagram and we tag the celebrity who’s on there so that if anybody tags, say Chris Hemsworth, there is a chance they will pop up and we will get seen around.
“The loan also helped with other branding and setup costs,” says Ferg.
Life is getting busier for the team as there is an increase in flight schedules and more charter flights coming in, thanks to travel restrictions easing and people starting to travel again.
They also pick up road traffic as people visit the Royal Flying Doctors Service (RFDS) outback experience.
Popularity is also picking up with the local community.
The Café has regular bookings from several different groups of 16-20 local residents and is renowned for the breakfasts it serves up to visitors, so the café is becoming a destination within itself.
“Not long after we started we had Isla Fisher, and they were doing some shooting out here and we did 115 brekkies we had to set up for, which was just madness.
“She came over and thanked us personally and was amazed at the quality of the food and coffee in a small regional airport,” Mr Ferguson said.
Craig and Jodie are also looking to acquire skills training for staff, which will not only benefit the business and their diners, but Broken Hill as a whole.
“The Foundation support meant the world to us when we started,” Craig says. “We’ll be back to talk with the Foundation again as we grow.”
Craig says he and Jodie initially saw the Airport Café as a blank canvas and have been proud to see it grow.