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Sharing a plate of pasta brings unexpected benefits


Roberto Tonin is owner, director and artisan at Pasta Classica. 

Pasta Classica truck.

To be honest with you, I really didn't have complete understanding of the ramifications of this virus.


What I did know was that this was going to be different, uncharted waters.



Leading up to the Australian Grand Prix cancellation I was thinking “Oh, that's not going to be much good”. And then the materialisation of other sports events being cancelled - and no place of mass gathering. No weddings. No functions. Well, that's my business.


Pasta Classica, my family owned and run boutique pasta business has been operating now for just shy of 30 years. It started with my wife and I having a dream to be self-sufficient in terms of manufacturing.


We chose not to be a "Me too" pasta business, we thought we'd have to be very different and at least find a wedge in the market that would allow us to survive. We've created a reputation for ourselves such that all gourmet pasta is measured against our barometer, our standard, our offering, our variety, our quality - and we are pretty proud of that.


I think our standard was quite novel in the industry and hence how we came to be supplying all the majors: the majority of the major five star hotels in Melbourne, virtually all the major stadiums from the MCG to AAMI to Marvel. And the major sporting events in the city, the Grand Prix and Spring Carnival.


I was on my way to deliver the pasta to the Grand Prix when I got the call: it had been cancelled. With around 80, 90 kilos of pasta now sitting on my hands, we re-purposed and utilised it through prepared meals.


It wasn't a wasted effort, we could utilise it, no problems about that. And it was really good, lovely ravioli. Beautiful, beautiful products. So we put them through. In fact, we don't normally use those products in our prepared meals. So having utilised them sort of made us realise, “maybe we should do more of that”.


That helped us broaden the range of prepared meals and spark ideas for business survival, so there's a positive.


A Helping hand


It's funny, I don't speak to many people about their relationship with banks, but I have an amazing relationship with my bank, ANZ.


Not only did my relationship manager explain the finance support that is available, he sat down and brainstormed ideas, provided suggestions. It was quite humbling that they were suggesting business alternatives.


I don't like sitting on my hands and licking my wounds. They [ANZ] were aware of this, so weren’t surprised that I'd be looking for opportunities outside my normal comfort zone. 


They were encouraging of those ideas that I had and were tuned into what would be happening to people, particularly what would be happening to me.


To order delicious  gourmet fresh pasta and pre-prepared meals (Melbourne area) go to www.pastaclassica.com.au

Delicious pasta from the Pasta Classica range.


What goes around, comes around


Wherever I can, I support my clients and my fellow small businesses. In turn, they support us. We support each other. Suddenly there is a snowball effect, it saddens us to see so many people in the position that they're in now.


Originally, I deliberately found a location that didn't have a street frontage. So that's why I've needed to go out and put a whole heap of billboards in and around the factory in Coburg in some prime positions to draw customers into our factory to help us bring some income.


I was afraid the owners of the property wouldn’t allow it. But it never happened.


This has been quite humbling because the boards have been put on prime properties and on private properties. Most of the time, I only got half the question out of my mouth and they already said “yes, by all means put the board on my property”.


Not only did they allow me to put the boards on their property but they deliberately bought pasta for staff, it was just something they would never have done, and have never done. They’ve become advocates of my business.


The small business community is a pretty special thing, we all tend to want to

help and support each other.


We don’t want to see each other fail. We all feel each other’s pain and do whatever we can to keep spirits up and to help keep each other in existence, because small business people like to keep each other alive.


Looking forward


I don't know what's going to happen next week. Like everybody else, we're suffering.


I wake up in the morning thinking “what am I missing, what can I be doing?" And I don't like being too comfortable because when you're comfortable you stop being creative, you start just marking time.


This is a pretty hefty blow, this one. This is something you can't have misjudged; it doesn't reflect a bad decision. We all make decisions that don’t always pay off but this one here, this one here is a challenge that has been imposed.


It's early days, it's early days in terms of seeing the fruits of decisions being made to adjust business operations.


Whether you’re a home loan customer, small business or big business, we are here to help. Please get in touch. Visit https://www.anz.com.au/business/covid-19/



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