Hannah Colman and Jess Moran take a different approach with Scarf, which they founded in 2010. Scarf’s feel-good dinners are so popular they are often booked out weeks in advance. Scarf partners with restaurants, doing guest sessions once a week, to focus on training young refugees.
The host restaurant cooks the food while Scarf trainees, with some help from mentors, do the rest. The service can vary, but the dinners are fun, the food good and the trainees are keen.
So far Scarf has trained 74 young people and 70 per cent of these are now working. The young people, who are paid, learn about service, beer, coffee and wine. Mentors and sponsors come from top restaurants and businesses.
“The resilience, amazing attitude and commitment from young people is mind-blowing,” Hannah says.
Long Street Coffee
On a smaller scale, hardworking-couple Jane and Francois Marx spent $30,000 of their own money to set up Long Street Coffee in a back street in Richmond at the end of June. They also had $10,000 from an Australian Women’s Weekly grant and some money from crowd funding.
The cafe operates as a standard business and three refugees are employed part-time. After six months of training, they will move on to other jobs and new trainees will come onboard.
A more upmarket venture is Fitzroy’s smart restaurant, Charcoal Lane, where you can eat finely crafted native ingredients, cooked and served by Indigenous hospitality students.
Then there’s trendy Shebeen, a CBD not-for-profit laneway bar, set up by Simon Griffiths and Zanna McComish. It has beers from developing countries and 100 per cent of the profits go to projects back in those countries. In Donkey Wheel House, rustic Kinfolk cafe, headed by Jarrod Briffa, relies heavily on volunteers with profits distributed to partner charities. Despite its ups and downs, the vegetarian “pay as you feel” Lentil as Anything, founded by Shanaka Fernando 15 years ago, now has five cafes.
We like to eat out, we like to help and social enterprise cafes offer a chance to do this in a positive, pro-active and fun way. With this crop of competitive top-notch places, maybe we can change the world one bite (or coffee) at a time.