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Melbourne Money doesn’t quite hit the mark for small cafes

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By Brendan Rees

Cafés and small eateries in Docklands feel they have missed out on the benefits of the popular Melbourne Money scheme after reporting the minimum $50 spend was too high.

The scheme, which was launched on November 15, allowed diners to claim up to 30 per cent off their bills – up to $150 – from Monday and Thursday when they spent between $50 and $500 each week. 

Paul Polidano, who runs Café Esc at the ANZ branch on Collins St, said while trade had slowly picked up, the staggered return of office workers and few visitors meant Melbourne Money was “useless”.

“I think the drawback is Monday to Thursday. It’s good for some [venues] I suppose but it doesn’t really affect us at all,” he said.

 

We just mainly survive on white collar workers, we don’t really fill with tourists, there’s nothing much done here anyway because we’re at the end of Collins St.

 

“It’s picked up because there’s some people coming back to work slowly, but the ANZ is not bring everyone back until the end of January.”

Angelo Theo, who co-owns Foccacino and In a Rush cafes in Docklands, said they didn’t get one person take advantage of Melbourne Money.

“It didn’t work for us because the minimum is too high for our cafes. Normally people don’t spend $50 or more that much,” he said.

“The good thing is we are getting a little bit busier with more people coming back to work which has been really good for us – we’re just hoping that that continues.”

Diego Ayal, owner of Charlie Bit Me Café, also on Collins St, said he believed Melbourne Money was a “great idea”, “regardless of whether it works for us or not, I think it’s a pretty good incentive”.

“It just seems like every week is a little bit better,” he said.

“It’s been Monday and Thursday that is when we get most people around. I think it’s a little bit livelier, people seem happier, it’s looking brighter.”

Renzo Mammolito, who co-owns Renzo’s Bar on NewQuay Promenade, said he noticed there was a “little bit less” foot traffic compared to the first round of Melbourne Money earlier this year.

“Weekends aren’t too bad but during the week for us … there’s not much traffic around Docklands,” he said, adding he hoped it “changes for everyone”.

John Cargo, co-owner of Berth and Cargo restaurants, said Melbourne Money “been one of the better schemes” the City of Melbourne had offered.

“I think a really, really positive scheme, the staff at both have been pushing it,” he said.

“I think the customers are really taking to it well. We’re finding a large percentage do know about it and make a claim.”

“The weekdays have definitely been pretty good down here.”

The $5 million Midweek Melbourne Money dining scheme ends on November 30.

Since the scheme launched patrons have spent more than $12 million in restaurants, cafes and bars – with claims topping $3.8 million at the time of going to press •

 

Captions: Diego Ayal, owner of Charlie Bit Me Café, said trade was “looking brighter”.

Paul Polidano, who runs Café Esc in Docklands, said Melbourne Money had been disappointing with few customers spending more than $50.

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