Businesses across Melbourne are finding innovative ways to adapt to the challenges of COVID-19.
Milk the Cow fromagerie is one of 1200 local small to medium-sized businesses and non-profit organisations we have supported with business grants.
Business are using these grants to invest in online and e-commerce capabilities, take part in training and professional development, and undertake capital works.
We spoke to Daniel Verheyen, owner and director of Milk the Cow, to find out more about how his business has adapted in recent months.
What do you love about cheese, and sharing it with Melburnians?
Cheese brings people together. It always seems to be that as soon as cheese hits the table, people connect over it. It’s the European style of sharing food and camaraderie.
I’ve always found cheese to be a great conversation starter, and the stories behind the produce, in particular, which is why we have our staff tell those stories at the table for every cheeseboard we serve.
How has COVID-19 affected Milk the Cow, and what will you use your City of Melbourne grant?
We had to temporarily close as a restaurant, which is our main function. Our revenue was literally 95 per cent down at our Carlton store overnight. We managed to keep the doors open and employ some staff by doing takeaway but it was a huge hit for us.
We set up a very makeshift online offering right away and started an in-house delivery service (also helping to keep staff employed), which was well-received while everyone was in isolation.
We will use the grant to expand and improve that online offering, so we can keep offering that service to our customers who are working from home or prefer to remain more isolated, and also so our customers can still experience Milk the Cow from home, because even when we can reopen we will still be limited with how many people can join us in our venue.
Broadly, what is your perspective on the impact of COVID-19 on local businesses?
We’re generally a pretty positive group at Milk the Cow, but to be honest we’re all a bit weary, and wary, from the past few months. It feels like lifetimes have passed, we all had to adapt so many times. I know every other small business feels the same.
In the end, our philosophy is that you can only control what you can control. For us, we’ve been going back to basics – it’s been like reopening again. Our menu, our hours, our communications, everything has been pared back and simplified.
It’s been the cliché of COVID, but we are all in this together – customers, suppliers, employers. And we’re not out of it yet. With borders closed, we’re depending on each other more than ever now. Local is everything.