There are not many people who would dream of starting a business in the midst of a global pandemic but for Azana Mackali-Cerasi and Josh Milkie it was a risk worth taking.
The Shepparton couple opened the gates to Red Truck Cafe late last month.
For Azana, opening a sustainable, organic cafe was an aspiration she had long shared with mum Betty Cerasi, but it was when she met Josh that it started to come to fruition.
“We've been passionate about it for a long time and we really believe it should be the way of the future because its a really holistic system that looks after everyone involved, the earth, us human beings, the animals and we wanted to share that with everyone,” she said.
While COVID-19 halted their plans for a dine-in cafe, they forged ahead.
“In a way it was good because it gave us that time to re-evaluate what we wanted to do and let us slow down a little bit and make sure we had everything right before we opened,” Josh said.
Even the shipping container - the centerpiece of the quirky garden set-up was born out of the need for a takeaway-only business model.
“All the little eclectic things we've been collecting over the years so it's lovely that we can finally share it with everyone,” Azana said.
“In terms of like the customer response, I think it's actually been really good because we're sort of offering something different from the usual and COVID is not really a thing talked about here, because we're providing a happy space and it just takes people's minds off the pandemic.”
Eventually Red Truck Cafe will serve up a mix of cuisines with a focus on organic and healthy options catering for all dietary requirements.
“My mum's a brilliant cook and she always manages to whip up something from the most obscure ingredients,” Azana said.
But for now they are focusing on a menu of takeaway coffee and cakes.
Along with the tradies who finished the build in record time, Josh said it was the help of other local businesses including coffee roaster Streamline Supplies and pastry chef Piccolo Pasticceria that made the launch possible.
“Everything is as Australian and as organic as it can possibly be right down to our coffee which is organically grown up in Byron Bay,” he said.
“That's not a common thing as Australian coffee is only less than one per cent of the global market.”
With sustainability at the forefront, Azana said they also made their own cashew and almond milk.
“We source our almonds from Aintree Almond farm which is only in Bearii, they're organic as well and then, as it's house-made, there's no plastic involved so it's probably one of the most sustainable ones you can go for in terms of your milk options,” she said.
“All our cups, lids, forks, spoons, all the packaging is compostable, they just go in the green bin, and we're still taking keep cups as well.
“Down the track we'll hope to hold a few events as well because people don't know these things, other cafes might offer compostable cups, but it's not common knowledge so people throw it in the red bin and then it doesn't break down properly.”
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