Last September, Cozy Cove captured my imagination and my eye with the fresh flowers placed on the tables outside. Before long, it was one of my favourite places to sit, watch people and write.

Then I started noticing the familiar food that kept popping up on the menu, from Menemen (man, oh man! eggs) to Baklava, to Borek (spinach and feta pastry), Gozleme and the sesame rings we call Simit in Turkey. The occasional “Merhaba!” (“Hello” in Turkish) when I see the owners Mick (Mahmut) and his wife Yasemin sealed Cozy Cove’s fate in my mind. It’s the place for me for an afternoon pick-me-up with my girls, often accompanied by a slice of Yasemin’s homemade Baklava.

A couple of weeks ago I sat down with Mick and Yasemin to hear a bit of their personal story and was delighted to find out that Cozy Cove is very much a family business and the young man at the cashier (Kaan) is their son. He’s in the second year of a double degree in commerce and science at Macquarie University.

Mick came from Sivas, a major city on the Central Anatolian region of Turkey, to Australia with his family when he was a young child back in 1970. On one of his holidays back to Turkey he met Yasemin who grew up in beautiful Izmir on the Aegean Coast. They married New Year’s Eve in 1998 and together ran a childcare centre, three Michel’s Patisseries and now Cozy Cove. They also have a younger daughter who’s in high school pursuing an education in the performing arts.

Mick’s background is in economics and at one point in his career he worked as a consultant to the Federal Government in Canberra but his entrepreneurial spirit and longing for teaching led him to Sydney where he’s taught at UNSW for the past 25 years, and currently at Macquarie and LaTrobe Universities.

I didn’t ask Mick about where he sees the economy heading, but his lifestyle, which is very much family-oriented, gave me some hints that there are definite benefits for families that can work together.

Cultural Fit

In Australia, we are so fortunate to have cultural diversity which gives us a new way of looking at things, expanding our views, but the language barrier and cultural differences also bring about challenges. Cozy Cove employs people from different backgrounds, as many cafes do, but the benefits of having someone like Yasemin, who knows how to make Turkish coffee and Kaan who knows what I’m talking about when I ask for simit is invaluable, at least to me.

Mick is a believer that rather than adopting a competitive model, if each business brings about their uniqueness to the market, then there are customers for everyone. Cozy Cove’s intimate understanding of the Turkish culture with Mick at the helm (since July 6, 2019) is its point of difference.

Adaptability to Disruption

When something unprecedented like a global pandemic comes around, it may be difficult to keep the staff. They may take jobs elsewhere and not be available after their shifts start to get cut as a result of a slump in business. You can count on family in times like these.

In the times of the COVID-19, Kaan began to play a bigger role in Cozy Cove, manning the cash register and taking his barista skills to the next level. It also gave him an outlet to meet new people, get out and about when his mates were possibly stuck at home not knowing what to do with themselves. There’s only so much screen time a human being can take before the craving for real human interaction becomes too much to bear.

Personal Development and Creativity

Simit, baklava, Turkish coffee, menemen, gozleme and spinach borek are just a few of the Turkish essentials that Yasemin has brought to Cozy Cove. Her simit keeps getting better and better. I was lucky to have tasted the latest version and wow! warm from the oven with the right crunch, it sure brings back memories of enjoying a simit from the street carts in Istanbul.

The fresh flowers and little touches which make a big difference are what people who take ownership and pride in their work bring. This is just one of the added benefits of working with one’s family.

Over to you…

When was a time you worked together with your family to accomplish a common goal? What was that experience like? Would you do it again? Why or why not?

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