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OHO in ISO: Mauro Callegari from The Independent, Gembrook

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At The Independent Gembrook, Mauro has designed a modern Argentinian menu. He honed his skills working world-wide in kitchens in Melbourne, London and Buenos Aires and was part of the opening team of Conran’s Almeida Restaurant in London. Closer to home he’s worked in the kitchens of some of Melbourne’s most respected chefs including Marcus Moore at Sofitel and Raymond Capaldi at Fenix.

What is happening with the restaurant at this stage?

At this stage, the restaurant is selling ‘Ready to Heat at Home Meals’. We are delivering to local suburbs, Thursday to Sunday, and to some surrounding suburbs on alternating days. People can also arrange to collect from the restaurant Thursday to Sunday 11am-4pm. We are currently working on launching ‘Ready to Eat Meals’ on the weekend, where customers can pick up our dishes hot or receive them by delivery if they are local. 

How are your staff going?

Our staff are all well. Whilst remaining positive and in good spirits, we are all concerned about the current situation and what the future will look like. 

There are twelve staff involved in the restaurant operation at the moment. Together we are prepping, packing and delivering meals as far as Beaconsfield and Belgrave and most suburbs in between. 

I am keeping in contact with staff through our Facebook staff group page. I also check in with them by phoning them, sending text messages and having meetings at the restaurant. 

What’s the feeling around Gembrook at the moment?

From the very beginning we were all concerned about how we are all going to come out on the other side of this. This situation has placed so much strain on our business. It has affected us personally and emotionally but the community is sticking together. They are popping in to say hello, that in itself is support. They are buying our products, sharing our posts on social media and spreading the word that we are now trading with our ‘Ready to Heat at Home Meals’ available to purchase online. 

The week we closed our landlord contacted us and offered their help. Neighbours, suppliers, local groups, staff and our families are all working with us to support us. 

What changes are you considering for the business once restrictions are downgraded?

We are currently making a lot of changes in regards to service and our offerings. We review our profit and loss statement daily to see where we can cut unnecessary costs. We are also working towards a new marketing plan. Everyone is also involved in doing small projects that are difficult to do when the restaurant is in operation such as maintenance, filing, cleaning and gardening. 

What have you been watching or reading in lockdown?

I’ve been reading a book called ‘Where Dreams Come From’. I’ve also been spending my time cooking at home and going for walks with my son. I’ve been watching ‘That 70’s Show’, it’s a good laugh when you need to relax. 


THE DETAILS:

The Independent Gembrook
79  Main Street, Gembrook

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