By Fiona Scott-Norman
50’s/60’s Magandee Café and Thai Restaurant popped up in September 2021 at the market end of Hopkins St, a beacon of self-expression and warmth in the then-dead strip of cafes closed due to COVID.
A surprise package, Magandee – ‘bring good people together’ in Thai – is a curated paradise of 50’s and 60’s memorabilia and collectables, Japanese animation figurines and robots, photographs, vintage cameras, deco light fittings, a jukebox and a 1980’s Bomb Jack arcade game.
Chimes and bird noises emanate from a grotto of plants as jazz or rock and roll records play on a turntable. Everything is intended to delight.
The unifying principle is the friendship of the owners, Wirut ‘Nook’ Khemnak and Wasant ‘Was’ Chote, both originally from Bangkok.
Nook met Was when he opened his photography studio on Paisley St opposite Was’s Thai grocery store. Turns out they both play guitar and sing, they love jazz, and they’re avid collectors of vintage paraphernalia.
“The initial idea was a man cave,” says Nook. “Somewhere we could enjoy after work. We love to play darts and have a beer. And our wives were eager to get all the things out of our garages. This is a café and museum together!”
Magandee represents Nook and Was’s passions. The coffee is exceptional (Nook is obsessed, the coffee machine an iconic orange La Marzocco), the hospitality genuine. “I love talking to people. Think of Mangadee as a friend’s house. You’re coming to a friend’s house.”
Word is spreading through the Thai community about their authentic street food. Ninja, a customer, brought three friends with her. “You want real Thai food?” she pronounces. “You come here. Nowhere else has this food.”
Nook and Was weren’t daunted by opening during Covid. “Life is short. I wanted to live my dreams. Meet like-minded people.”
50’s/60’s Magandee Café
1A/68 Hopkins St, Footscray
Ph: 7016 8098
Fri-Sat 8am-3pm, 5pm-9pm,