Local cafes and restaurants have long been at the forefront of innovation when it comes to food. Running a small business comes with its challenges, but as Eric Bittner from Caf√© Derailleur in Wangaratta has found, it can also lead to unique opportunities.
‚ÄúMy ethos and vision for Cafe Derailleur is a unique and quirky neighbourhood cafe that serves quality house-made food using local, seasonal produce where possible, served by friendly hospitality professionals,‚Äù Bittner says. ‚ÄúMy focus is on ensuring that our coffee and food is the best it can be.‚Äù
Although it sounds like a simple goal, it can be a difficult balance to weigh quality ingredients, local produce and higher welfare animal products against the unavoidable financial reality of running a caf√© in a small town.
Over the years however, Bittner has managed to find the sweet spot, with a focus on supporting local growers and producers and higher welfare products wherever he can.
‚ÄúWe serve Milawa Free Range eggs because I knew that eight years ago, when we opened our little caf√©, that was what my customers wanted,‚Äù Bittner says. ‚ÄúPurchasing free range eggs was also a start for me personally to begin purchasing locally and ethically, and to understand the challenges that exist in a small business in a regional centre to purchase in this way.‚Äù
Those challenges include competitive pricing, availability, and of course making sure that flavour and quality remain the highest priority. With commitment and time, however, Caf√© Derailleur has managed to create a bustling local network of suppliers that provide them with everything from avocados and oranges to lamb, beef and goat!
Their serving of cage-free eggs has also seen the business listed on RSPCA‚Äôs Choose Wisely directory, which showcases businesses across the country that use higher welfare animal products on their menus.
‚ÄúRight now, the majority of eggs in Australia still come from battery cages,‚Äù Hope Bertram, RSPCA‚Äôs Humane Food Manager, said. ‚ÄúBusinesses like Caf√© Derailleur are not just providing their customers with delicious meals every day, they‚Äôre also showing their commitment to progress when it comes to animal welfare by serving humane food.‚Äù
As the business continues to flourish, Bittner is keen to see how he can expand the higher welfare animal products he serves, as well as continuing to grow their local, seasonal menu. It‚Äôs not just about cafes doing their part though, Bittner reminds us ‚Äì it‚Äôs also about customers getting involved too.
‚ÄúVote with your feet and with your coins. Eat the local dishes, support the cafes that are buying local seasonal produce, buy food from a farmer at the market and talk to them about the best way to cook it. You‚Äôll learn a bit and you‚Äôll feel a greater connection to your community. It doesn‚Äôt matter where you start or how much you start with. It matters that you start.‚Äù
You can find out more about Choose Wisely and find other venues serving higher welfare food at www.choosewisely.org.au.
Caf√© Derailleur: 38 Norton St, Wangaratta VIC 3677