El Churro Cafe Spanish Doughnuts
Updated: Sep 29
More than anything, owner of the El Churro Cafe Dee Aldemir values family: "as a family woman, I really try to create a welcoming, family atmosphere”.
The El Churro Cafe in Glenferrie Hawthorn is a unique branch of the Spanish Doughnuts franchise, a Spanish dessert bar with multiple locations around Melbourne - all of which are owned by members of Dee’s family. For many years the family business discussed the prospect of opening a restaurant, until Dee and her husband Sam made it a reality in 2015. Dee had been working for IKEA for 13 years, while Sam had a longstanding career in the energy industry. “We both had this feeling it was the right time of our lives to do something different."
Dee herself grew up in Shepparton, where her parents were tomato farmers. She moved to Brunswick in her teens to finish high school, eventually choosing to reside in Hawthorn, where she’s lived now for almost 20 years. “We chose Glenferrie Road [for the restaurant] because we’re local, and we wanted to do something local. Why would I travel somewhere else when my heart and home is here?” As such, her three children attend three different local schools.
Dee’s long history in reception and retail fostered her love for customer service. “I just love people. I enjoy meeting and talking to people and finding that connection between the two of you. It’s always there, you just have to look”. As customers filtered in and out of the restaurant, she greeted many regulars as fond friends. One was a 102-year-old man, who comes in every morning for his daily coffee. Without a doubt, she says, her customers are her favourite part of the job.
Inside, you'll find a restaurant heavily inspired by Spanish design. The European-tiled wall, raw timber, exposed brick, and crawling Devils Ivy gives the space "a very natural atmosphere," she says. "Real plants really bring an energy to a space - but my husband Sam is the green thumb." This came in handy in 2017 when they opened their plant-filled, open-air, rooftop courtyard, bringing something "unique and special to Glenferrie."
As a Glenferrie local, Dee believes: "it's really important for us businesses to support one another and maintain thriving local business". She sources her meat for the restaurant from Glenferrie Gourmet Meats, any gifts she needs from Homing Instincts, and her books from Readings. El Churro offers a 'meal and movie' deal in partnership with Lido Cinema, who opened their doors on the same day four years ago.
Most of all, Dee wants her space to be somewhere people feel they can relax, be comfortable, and feel like family. “I like to think of it as somewhere you can relax after a day of work, wind down for dessert after dinner, or even later, for drinks with friends."