Cafe 126 opened its doors last year just as the first coronavirus restrictions came into place in Victoria, and since then, like many other similar businesses, it has had to endure further lockdowns, making it challenging to run a profitable enterprise.
“I opened just before the first hard lockdown at the start of the COVID emergency,” Cafe 126 owner Ricky Wilson said.
“Initially it didn’t really affect us too much, and it took-off fairly well at the start, but as the second lockdown came it had its challenges and things went up and down a bit.
“Fortunately, I haven’t had to put any of my own money into the business to keep it going − it has been supporting itself with lots of support from locals.”
To make things harder, Ricky and his business weren’t eligible for the JobKeeper support package introduced by the Federal Government.
“I had to have been open and registered by the first of May and so I haven’t been able to get anything for myself or my staff,” he said.
Ricky said that he had remained open for takeaway coffees and food during the recent snap lockdown.
“We also opened at night for takeaway meals as well to add to sales a bit more and pay a few of the bills,” he said.
“When the last lockdown was announced, I sort of panicked a bit. Things have been tough and we have just been getting by over the last few months, and when that hit, I thought we might have to close the doors permanently if it went on too long.
“I gave the staff some leave and I have been running the cafe myself.”
Ricky is a qualified chef and butcher, who turned his hand to selling cars and motor bikes for a period.
“My wife Sarah and I managed the Harley Davidson dealership here for a couple of years, following which I was a sales executive at Davison Ford and Sarah is the service manager there currently. We thought it was a good idea to keep one person on a salary until things are really up and running.
“My parents had cafes while I was growing up and I swore I would never do it. A friend of mine actually had this shop before me and he was looking to move on and that gave me the opportunity which I took.
“We do breakfast and lunch, and from the first Sunday in March, we are going to open for breakfast, something we haven’t done before.”
Cafe 126, located in Eighth Street, opposite the old post office, has become a destination for lovers of a good coffee and a great food and the egg and bacon roll is a specialty.
“I get good reports about the egg and bacon roll and we have a special where you get the roll and a large coffee for just $10. That is proving very popular,” Ricky said.
So come on Mildura, let’s show Cafe 126 some love!