Ah, the 1980s. Some may prefer not to reflect on this but they were the days E.T. and the Terminator visited earth, we won the America’s Cup prompting Prime Minister Bob Hawke to say “Any boss who sacks a worker for not turning up today is a bum,” and the music was funky. And dare we say Michael Jackson was black.
If you really like to show your age from these great old days – Gen Y calls them retro – then travel back in time to The Strand in Port Elliot and meet Michael Smitham, who in the early 80s probably would have had a acne problem going to a Cold Chisel Concert at the Arkaba Hotel near the city.
Michael (pictured) started The Retro Vibe, an eat and coffee shop decked out in retro gear, about six months ago, and fortunately it has taken on faster than us old timers thought computers ever would.
“It’s a fun thing,” Michael insists. “I was going to do the antique thing in the shop, but it all seemed too stuffy. We wanted in brighter; more of a café shop.”
Making the shop also different is the fact it doesn’t focus on the traditional feeding times; they cater largely for the brunches and the mid-afternoon groups, especially those celebrating someone’s birthday who wishes they weren’t around to experience the 80s.
Michael, 49, originally from Clare, said setting up a retro coffee shop was certainly different to him embarking on a teaching degree a few decades ago. “The hospitality industry was always my go,” he said. “I was even a function coordinator and a wedding coordinator.”
The retro theme is prominent in the cake cabinet too with those jelly slices that our mums don’t make any more, the Hedgehogs and strawberry tarts. There are also memories in the locally homemade scones, and sensational Cornish pasties from, Milang.
The good thing is that Michael doesn’t need to tell his kids, Connor, 15, and Rhett, 11, what it was “like in my day” because they work part-time in the café and are surrounded by the retro gear. Fortunately, his wife, Fiona, is up with the times as a hairdresser at Harbor Hair in Victor Harbor.