These Stellar Melbourne Venues Are Giving Back to the Community During Lockdown
Free feeds for locals doing it tough, no questions asked.
Melbourne's latest lockdown has hit the city's hospitality scene as hard as any before it, with venues forced to close their doors and rely entirely on takeaway and delivery trade for almost six weeks to date — and an unknown number more to come. That's seen a drop in income for a huge number of employees across the state, as the hours and shifts used to pay for essential bills are cut. And at this stage, no one has an end date.
But, if Melbourne's hospitality scene is anything — it's resilient, even when its people wish they didn't have to be. In an entirely Melbourne show of solidarity, some of the city's most loved eateries are throwing their support behind the hospitality community — and many others — by giving back to those that have been hit by the lockdown the hardest. If you're a worker who's been impacted by lockdown, here's where to find a helping hand and a hot feed, no questions asked.
Under metro Melbourne's current lockdown rules, you're required to stay within five kilometres of home. For more details on current restrictions, head to the DHHS website.
1800 Lasagne, led by all-round champion of the people Joey Kellock, has been involved in a whole swag of community-focused initiatives during Melbourne's various lockdowns; from meal giveaways to giant posters declaring messages of support. Most recently, in one day the restaurant handed out 150 DIY pasta packs to those doing it tough, heroing donations from the likes of Mount Zero and Mediterranean Wholesalers. And we're told another community giveaway is in the works for this Sunday, September 19 — stay tuned on Instagram for the latest info.
Over in Yarraville, family-run Greek restaurant Eleni's Kitchen and Bar received such an overwhelming response to an initial community cook-up it hosted, that the team decided to make it a weekly thing. "After we did the first giveaway I realised how many people were doing it tough, not only from a food perspective but also mentally," co-owner Eleftheria Amanatidis explained. "How often I got told that [it] made their day really stayed with me." The venue now runs a different food giveaway each Thursday, featuring ingredients generously donated by its suppliers and with showbags courtesy of the Western Bulldogs AFL team. Over 1000 meals have been handed out so far and they've got plans to continue as long as lockdown does.
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In Carlton North, the team at artisan food store Maria's Pasta have spearheaded a program of community dinners, serving up hot, handmade takeaway meals to those within their five kilometre travel bubble. Now running every Tuesday, the events have become an important neighbourhood fixture, with co-owner Kylie Italiano calling the initiative: "Essentially an extended family dinner table that expanded into the homes of those around our area!" The menu changes weekly, but almost always stars offerings from fellow northside mates like Sibling Cafe, The Empress Hotel and The Fishmonger's Son, along with Maria's own fresh pasta. The store is also home to a pay-it-forward wall, where people can prepay meals or vouchers for anyone who could use one.
Last weekend, the folks behind iconic shipping container bar Section 8 (in collaboration with The Operatives and Crown Ruler) put together a virtual music festival to drum up donations for their own support program. The aim? To feed a stack of hospitality and music industry workers in need. Along with additional donations from Pernod Ricard, Dinnerly and Deliveroo, the money raised from the 12-hour live stream will now be used to assemble a whole bunch of care packages and ready-to-eat meals to be distributed to workers impacted by the ongoing lockdowns. If that's you, you'll find details on how and where to get involved released shortly on the Section Aid Instagram page. Otherwise, donations are still open — jump over here if you're able to throw some support behind the program.
No stranger to providing good vibes and community support during these crazy times, Windsor's Yeah Boy has been running some sweet initiatives to help make lives a little easier. A recent Pay It Forward promotion invited punters to nominate other deserving folk to win an all-inclusive dining experience, while the current Gym Keeper program is handing out free feeds to employees impacted by gym and fitness studio closures. If you could use a little helping hand from this last initiative, it's running 4–6pm each day the Windsor venue is open. Another community support project is in the pipeline, too — keep an eye on the Instagram page for details.
Southside pub The Wolf Windsor has been hosting weekly hospo parma nights to help out anyone in that industry who's lost work due to the lockdown. These usually kick off from 5pm, with the venue shouting 50 free takeaway parmas per event, as well as offering one-litre beer growler refills for $12. Check out the socials for more details.
Previous lockdowns have delivered plenty of other generous projects, too, including the 500 free hospitality meals handed out by the Lucas Group in June, Good Gnocchi's free spaghetti day, and the San Telmo Group's hospo-focused giveaway of 1000 free feeds back in Lockdown 5.0.
Top image: Section 8, by Arianna Leggiero
Published on September 15, 2021 by Libby Curran