Saluministi adjusts for Docklanders
By Jack Hayes
There is no doubting the customary buzz of activity in Docklands has long since left following the implementation of staged coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions.
The nine to five hustle and bustle of Bourke and Collins streets has been reduced to a trickle of workers.
Residents are confined to their apartments and many businesses have closed or been forced to evolve to survive.
As the adage goes, “fortune favours the bold”, and Peter Mastro, co-owner of Saluministi Café and Alimentari, who continues to restructure his business model to provide Docklanders with the food and coffee they’ve grown to love, is a walking embodiment of this.
Admitting that he would have had to be “dragged kicking and screaming” to close his café at 892 Bourke St, Mr Mastro is dogged in his approach to keeping his business running, not only for him but for his 10-strong staff who rely on its operation as their sole income.
“Our goal is to be the last to close and the first to re-open. We don’t have any other option,” Mr Mastro said. “For us, business is as usual. We have always been designed to do takeaway. Somewhere you can grab a coffee and panini, without needing to step in-store.”
To add to its usual offerings of takeaway coffee and famous paninis, Mr Mastro has thrown open his pantry to create Saluministi Alimentari and Saluministi A Casa (at home).
Saluministi Alimentari is a makeshift produce store with an expanding selection of expertly crafted raw products to cook at home, plus a range of quality pantry staples, fresh bread, cured meats, cheese, personal care products, beer and wine.
“What we are trying to do is add on to our existing offerings by providing locals with the opportunity to have restaurant-style food,” Mr Mastro said.
“Not everyone is a chef, and not everyone wants to be a chef. But they still want great quality food, without too much hassle.”
“If we sell you some sauce, oil and pasta, you have everything to make something great yourself. But people can do that anywhere, so we want to give residents an experience at home that feels like they’re eating here, but without the work.”
Highlights of the Saluministi A Casa menu include its famous Porchetta Arrostita, a ready to bake Salsiccia Al Forno and eggplant parmigiana.
The shock of a global pandemic reverberates even stronger for Mr Mastro, as Saluministi was relishing record trade in the months prior.
“We are confident that once people know what we have and what we are doing, they will come for it. Just before all of this, we were the busiest we have ever been, despite being at the furthest point of Vic Harbour,” Mr Mastro said.
“The hardest part for us is to shrink a three or four-month awareness campaign into a couple of weeks. That’s our biggest challenge.” •
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