Carlton North's Babajan Has Transformed Into a Turkish Bakery and Shop — Permanently

The corner store is no longer filled with tables, but floor-to-ceiling shelves stocked with boreks, pistachio and rose cheesecakes, and spices.
Samantha Teague
August 13, 2020

A much-loved corner cafe with a Turkish and Middle Eastern edge, Babajan has been a Carlton North staple for the past four years. Like many, it had to switch things up during lockdown, transforming into a bakery and shop. But, unlike many, it has decided to make this change permanent.

When the Nicholson Street cafe first opened as a shop in lockdown 1.0 — all the way back in late March — owner Kirsty Chiaplias didn't expect it to be busy. But, it was. So, out came the tables, in went the shelves — and Babajan's quick pivot to takeaway-only became a long-term strategy.

"The pandemic has brought on a lot of stress and pressure, but it also enabled me to change things in my business that I have wanted to for a long time," Chiaplias said in a statement. "I'm really excited to get this off the ground and for people to come and enjoy the new look Babajan."

Arianna Leggiero

Now, when you visit the corner store, you'll be greeted by floor-to-ceiling timber shelves, stocked with Turkish and Middle Eastern pantry staples — such as harissa, za'atar, olive olive and olives — as well as freshly baked goods, including boreks, simits and other sweet and savoury pastries.

Takeaway fish rolls with sumac onions and mint, bright bean salads and colourful cakes — including a pistachio and rose baked cheesecake — take pride of place on the front counter, while Babajan's dips and Aussie booze are found in the new refrigerated section. Those looking for something heartier can order hot meals, too, such as eggplant and lamb moussaka, 12-hour braised lamb shoulder and a weekly changing soup.

With shopping for essentials limited to within five kilometres of your home under Melbourne's stage four restrictions, only those in the inner north can currently visit the new-look Babajan. But, luckily for those living a little further out, the shop is delivering to houses within 15 kilometres, and has free delivery for orders over $100. You can shop online over here.

Find Babajan at 713 Nicholson Street, Carlton North from 8am–3pm daily.

Images: Arianna Leggiero

Published on August 13, 2020 by Samantha Teague
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