Sam Batten is the owner of the ever-bustling Aggy's Corner in North Balgowlah, and more recently, a bright yellow 14kg 100Strong kettlebell that he sometimes also uses as a door stop at the coffee shop (I mean - why not?). We have a chat with him about what Aggy's Corner is all about and what led him to his first kettlebell.
Hi Sam! Tell us a little about yourself—why and what led you to open Aggy’s Corner?
I'm a rather simple man. Life revolves around my little family, the coffee shop, the beach and the golf course... and I wouldn't have it any other way. Aggy's Corner was actually a dream born from the idea of my brother in law, Thom, of The Fifth Lane, who found the space which is now the home of Aggy's Corner. He wanted to use it as his jewellery workshop. Having been a barista for nearly a decade, the idea was to put a small coffee machine in to use by day for him to cover the rent, and then use the space in the evening for his jewellery making workshops. I took a drive by the space with Thom to check it out, and after seeing the potential the space held (I'm a carpenter by trade), the ideas grew from there. 7 weeks later, we were renovating the space, and opened what is now Aggy's Corner.
You were in real estate in a previous life. That’s a very different world to coffee! Tell us about that transition.
My stint in real estate was rather short lived. I was working with STONE Manly, and absolutely loving it. A few months later Covid-19 hit, and with the uncertainty of where the real estate industry was headed, I was unfortunately moved to the sidelines, leaving me without work. Luckily, I was still a partner in Aggy's, which meant I was still able to support my family through what was a very weird time for everyone. This time also gave Thom an opportunity to reassess his situation, and he decided it was time for him to move on, so he and his family moved to the Central Coast, and I took full ownership of the coffee shop. It has actually been the best decision for everyone, so I am really happy it has worked out this way.
What inspired the name Aggy’s Corner and how has Aggy’s Corner evolved since first opening?
The shop is named after my daughter, Aggy, who was only 2 months old when we took over the lease to the space. My wife, Aniella, Thom and I tossed around a few names whilst sitting in our living room, and when it was suggested that we use Aggy's name in some way, it only felt right to call it Aggy's Corner, given the positioning of the shop. And boy, has she taken to being the namesake of the shop - she is definitely the boss.
We've certainly come a long way since we opened nearly 3 years ago, and we owe a lot of that to our wonderfully supportive community and dedicated team.
You recently bought your first 14kg kettlebell from 100Strong. What inspired you to start on this journey?
I wanted something I could work on my fitness with at home and at my own pace. I’m not a huge fan of gyms, I would much prefer to be outside.
How do you fit health and wellbeing practices into your lifestyle? Any health, fitness or self-care routines you swear by?
Golf, golf and more golf. I try to play at least twice a week. This definitely keeps me fit, having to walk around 10-15km per round. It's also a great way to get outdoors and soak up some sun and fresh air. My wife just had our second daughter, so I will no doubt be playing much less golf. My new kettlebell will come in very handy!
How have these routines and practices changed for you over time, especially after becoming a dad?
Before becoming a dad, I was a lot more active. My wife and I used to swim laps of a morning, and I loved to run. Then I had a baby and became the cliche, golf-playing dad. But again, I wouldn't have it any other way.
What are you reading, watching and listening to right now?
I'm currently reading The Monk Who Sold his Ferrari by Robin Sharma. A guilty pleasure of a night time at the moment, is to get in bed and watch a couple episodes of Schitt's Creek. It's easy watching after a big day at the shop.
You’re a true Northern Beaches local. Tell us what you love about this area, and where are your favourite to eat and hang out?
Funnily enough, I'm actually not local to the Northern Beaches. I grew up in country Victoria (Warrnambool) and relocated to the northern beaches in 2013 for my now wife, Aniella, which we do joke that I am now more local than her, as I have totally immersed myself in the Manly bubble.. so thanks for saying so! It's all about the lifestyle for me. Sydney has some of the nicest beaches in the world, and I love nothing more than spending time there with my family on our days off. We love eating at Hugo's and Garfish but I can’t go past our other two faves Tamagawa in Balgowlah and Eat Well in Manly! Put me on any beach with my girls, and I'm a happy man.