Lana Lazareva made the move from Russia to Armidale, and hasn’t looked back.
When Lana Lazareva and her husband relocated to Armidale in 2008, they hadn’t intended to stay too long. They had, after all, moved inland as part of an immigration program which encouraged Sydney folk to relocate to rural towns for a total of two years. Seven years later, however, Lana and her husband are still there and they have no intention of leaving any time soon.
“The peaceful atmosphere dragged us in,” Lana confesses. “We thought this would be a lovely place to raise our young children, as our son was just starting school and our daughter was going to day care.”
Lana, who immigrated to Sydney from the south of Russia in 2000, owns and operates the popular local cafe, Fresh@110. The decision to open the cafe was an obvious one for Lana, seeing as her resume already featured numerous cafes and restaurants in Sydney, including her very own cafe in the city centre. “We decided Armidale needed something new, different and interesting – with a twist!”
This dedication to creativity is evident simply by casting an eye over the cafe’s menu. By Lana’s own admission, it is a very wide menu, encompassing an incredible variety of international cuisines and ever-changing lunch options. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Lana’s most popular ticket items are those from her homeland.
“Most of my customers really, really love having Russian food”, she says, which is an attitude she feels may have something to do with the minute Russian population in Armidale. She herself loves all cuisine, from Moroccan to Greek to Spanish, but it’s her stroganoff and Russian pancakes that draw customers in time and again. “I can’t actually escape from these ones,” she says with a laugh.
Lana would love to have even more Russian items on the menu, including her Russian tortellini, which is handmade with different types of fillings. The problem, though, is that there just isn’t enough space in her current premises on Dangar Street. In the future, Lana hopes to move to a larger site and perhaps even start offering dinner a few nights a week. These expansion plans are on the backburner, however, due to her young family.
For now, she is happy to keep on serving up breakfast and lunch, an endeavour which is demanding enough considering she opens six days a week (the cafe is closed on Sundays) at 6:30am. However, she says the early hour is necessary on account of her diverse clientele, which ranges from policemen and tradesmen to travellers on their way to or from the airport.
Plus, Lana and her small team are committed to fresh produce and preparing everything themselves. “We are not buying anything commercial, but doing everything with love…we shred our cheese by ourselves as we don’t like pre-packaged. We do everything ourselves.”
Her efforts to best serve the caffeine-craving community do not go unrewarded, either, with Lana noting there is “a lot of appreciation from customers” for her early morning start. In fact, it is these customers, and the Armidale community in general, that are responsible for Lana, her husband and their children overstaying their initial two-year rural respite.
“Everyone is so welcoming, even though I am not a local”, Lana says, noting that the town of Armidale is a real little community. It’s clear this is not an exaggeration; even as we’re chatting, she will frequently call out goodbyes to customers with a cheery, ‘goodbye ladies, see you tomorrow.’ The community warmth is truly palpable.
“What we love most about Armidale is the atmosphere and the people. Everyone is smiling and waving and leading a relatively relaxed lifestyle.”
For Lana's top tips on what to do in Armidale, click here.
Fresh@110 is located at 110 Dangar St, Armidale, NSW. Call (02) 6772 9001 for more information.