New business in trying times
By Sean Car
While some businesses in Docklands haven’t been able to weather the economic storm brought on by the pandemic, William Comley of Harbour Coffee House is showing that new life is emerging.
Having kept his café open right throughout the pandemic, Mr Comley will soon launch a brand-new restaurant in the shop right next door in January in what comes as a positive show of faith in business returning to Docklands.
Melbourne Bay Restaurant will offer a Chinese-Australian fusion menu specialising in handmade dumplings where diners can watch them being made from freshly-made dough and all locally-sourced ingredients, including from the Queen Victoria Market.
Initially open for lunch with an eye to dinner as more workers begin their return to Docklands next year, Mr Comley said his new venue was licensed for up to 90 people and was able to cater for 35 people for outdoor dining. It will also offer an extensive drinks menu, with off-tap beers, locally-distilled spirits, cocktails and wines.
In a precinct that is usually buzzing during office hours with workers, Mr Comley’s Harbour Coffee House has provided an important boost for what has been a quiet Digital Harbour precinct in 2020.
While he said the pandemic had meant his usual commercial trade had largely been wiped out, the downturn had given his business the opportunity to connect with Docklands locals and come up with new ways of doing business.
“It’s [2020’s] been so different. In the morning we didn’t have time to talk to anyone, even the workers. We didn’t have time to do anything – it was just making coffee flat out.”
“Straight after COVID struck it [Docklands] was dead. But then suddenly so many locals have come in.”
“I knew very little about Docklands. I didn’t know Docklands people knew each other but everyone seems to know each other. All the buildings have their own communities so I’m getting to know all of the Docklands people and it’s been great.”
“It’s given us so much time to think about what we’re doing. Normally we’d be so busy I would have never done this many Christmas decorations. We’re just going to keep changing and bringing new things to the area.”
With Lord Mayor and Docklands resident Sally Capp pencilled in to cut the ribbon on the new Melbourne Bay Restaurant, Mr Comley said he was excited to be bringing new business to Docklands as it slowly recovers from the economic shock of COVID.
“It was hard in Docklands before and it’s harder now but I think it’s [the new business] for the best. Our standards are going even higher now,” he said.
“Now we’re getting all the workers coming back and things are starting to return to normal.”
The new restaurant is expected to open at 198 Harbour Esplanade in mid-January.