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 Café Derailleur in Wangaratta has found, it can also lead to unique opportunities.
“My 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,” Bittner says. “My focus is on ensuring that our coffee and food is the best it can be.”
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 café 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.
“We serve Milawa Free Range eggs because I knew that eight years ago, when we opened our little café, that was what my customers wanted,” Bittner says. “Purchasing 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.”
Those challenges include competitive pricing, availability, and of course making sure that flavour and quality remain the highest priority. With commitment and time, however, Café 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’s Choose Wisely directory, which showcases businesses across the country that use higher welfare animal products on their menus.
“Right now, the majority of eggs in Australia still come from battery cages,” Hope Bertram, RSPCA’s Humane Food Manager, said. “Businesses like Café Derailleur are not just providing their customers with delicious meals every day, they’re also showing their commitment to progress when it comes to animal welfare by serving humane food.”
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’s not just about cafes doing their part though, Bittner reminds us – it’s also about customers getting involved too.
“Vote 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’ll learn a bit and you’ll feel a greater connection to your community. It doesn’t matter where you start or how much you start with. It matters that you start.”
You can find out more about Choose Wisely and find other venues serving higher welfare food at www.choosewisely.org.au.
Café Derailleur: 38 Norton St, Wangaratta VIC 3677