Spotlight on: Yots Café at National Maritime Museum


By day, this is a relaxed waterside café; by night, it comes alive as a thriving event space.

Yots Café at the Australian National Maritime Museum is a casual waterfront Darling Harbour café operated by Laissez-faire Catering overlooking the picturesque Sydney Harbour and city skyline.

By day, the café’s relaxing atmosphere, great coffee and service keeps customers coming back.

By night, Yots is a fantastic waterfront venue for almost 200 people. The waterfront location and seasonal culinary focus allows Yots to provide a unique experience at the Australian National Maritime Museum.

We caught up with the team at Yots to find out more about the venue and their events:

What makes Yots Café unique?

We don’t have one type of audience at the café. We have museum goers, volunteers, members and families. Then we have corporate companies based in Pyrmont and the surrounds looking for an affordable waterfront café to showcase to their guests.

We have international visitors as well as shoppers from Harbourside and Darling Harbour and of course museum staff. So it’s a real mix.

We love that our chefs have the opportunity to be creative with each new exhibition, public festival or opportunity of being located in Darling Harbour. It makes returning to the café so enjoyable for visitors, staff as well as our loyal and repeat customers.

How has the café partnered with public events in the past?

Some examples in addition to the exhibition openings are:

Vivid Festival

In the first year of the Australian National Maritime Museum’s participation in Vivid and their East of India exhibition, we transformed Yots into a Bollywood-themed bar offering Indian tapas in the evenings.

In the following years, we have worked creatively with the venue to continue to capitalise on the volume of foot traffic around Darling Harbour and bring visitors to the Museum ‘after dark’ by incorporating the venue’s exhibition themes into the food offering, with pop-up food outlets, late night cocktail bars, a slider bar to target on-the-go families, extended opening hours and sponsored rooftop events against the backdrop of the Vivid projections, to name just a few.

Darling Harbour Festivals

The museum is a key attraction in Darling Harbour so when the precinct gets involved in activities such as the Winter Wonderland, we have always participated. Theming cupcakes or offering special healthy warm or iced drinks to tie into the theme. It’s a lot of fun for everyone and brings the Maritime Museum and the Darling Harbour community together.

Summer evenings

During the peak festival period of January, we extended Yots’ opening hours into the late evening to encourage greater and longer visitation into the venue. Guests enjoyed a Spanish-style evening with tapas and sangria and live entertainment, which included the Oscar Jimenez Band.

You recently won bronze in the NSW Tourism Awards. What does this recognition mean for Laissez-faire?

This is huge recognition for us and what we’ve done to help drive and support domestic and international visitation. Since about 2014, we’ve been proactively working with the Maritime Museum to help support their international tourism strategy which has included tailored menus for inbound groups. We started with predominantly Japanese and Korean inbound groups and slowly we’ve increased to the Chinese.

Working with the museum we were able to help host famils and win two huge incentives won for Sydney – Nu Skin Greater China and Amway China. We provided food options to suit these delegates, met the price point and made sure we had Mandarin and Cantonese speaking staff on site.

So while this award is only for the last 12 months, tourism credentials, capabilities and success takes years to build. We are so pleased that this award helps recognise the huge milestones our team have made in this area.

yots cafe

What is the venue’s capacity for events?

The Yots Café converts to a venue of 300 for cocktails, 190 banquet or 100 theatre-style. But the amazing thing about this venue is it has a beautiful outdoor area that serves as pre-function space.

In addition, there’s room on the performance space in front of the venue. So we can cater for up to 500 for this venue – but around 2,500 taking the whole of the outdoor areas including Yots for evening functions. It’s quite an astonishing and breathtaking hidden gem of Sydney – on the waterfront.

Find out more about Yots and Laissez-faire Catering here.

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