Cafe owner Melton survives six COVID-19 lockdowns to have two cafes listed as exhibition sites

Cafe owner Bob Barbar has experienced six closures, and now two of his family businesses have been listed as exhibition sites during the latest COVID-19 outbreak in Melbourne.

It is getting too hard.

Mr. Barbar runs the Jolly Miller Cafe in Melton, part of a family-owned chain of 14 restaurants across Victoria.

His cafe was listed as a Level 2 weekend show site. Her cousin runs another cafe The Jolly Miller in the Caroline Springs Square mall, which has been declared a Level 1 site.

Yesterday we had our worst trading day, ”he said.

“We have lost a lot.

“We threw bread… a lot of our candy, our fruits and vegetables were thrown away.”

To complicate matters, some of her staff had to isolate themselves as they visited the Caroline Springs Square Mall, forcing her business to shut down for longer.

On Thursday, Employment Minister Martin Pakula announced an additional $ 367 million in support for businesses affected by the extended Melbourne lockdown, jointly funded by the Commonwealth and Victoria governments.

But Mr Barbar said there had been long delays before previous foreclosure payments arrived.

“Lockdown number two… it was in July of last year. I only received [the money] during the last week of lockdown number four, which was in June of this year. “

Mr Barbar said he was just getting by with the help of the community, his owner and his staff.

“None of the bills are paid,” he said.

“We’re just breaking even with wages… and when I bounce back from foreclosure, I’ll pay my suppliers, the owner.”

Melbourne West has become a COVID-19 hotspot, with several emerging exposure sites in the region.

The Jolly Miller was listed as a Level 2 exposure site on August 8 after a visit from a COVID-positive person on August 4.

“The person came for a takeout sandwich,” Mr. Barbar said.

“They were in the store for less than three and a half minutes, then we got a call on Sunday night. [telling us what happened]. “

“Make a very fine line”

Normally the cafe can seat just under 100 people, but with density limits in place, there was only room for 65 people, including those dining outside.

Now only open for take-out, Mr Barbar said some days it wasn’t even worth opening the business.

“When you come for take out, you buy coffee for $ 4,” he said.

“If you dine there, you buy a plate of food, you might get a muffin from the fridge.”

White chairs stacked on tables in an empty cafe.
The Jolly Miller Cafe in Melton has been declared a COVID-19 exposure site.(

ABC News: Peter Healy


Mr Barbar said it was scary to be part of a COVID hotspot.

“Every day I wait for a phone call from DHHS (the Department of Health and Human Services) to see if we [have been listed] as an exhibition site, just to know if I close… do I order for the next day, “he said.

“We have a very fine order line with our orders right now. If you order it and stop, [there is a] a lot of waste. “

“It was difficult. It was difficult, but I am very grateful because we have a lot of support from the community.”

Money to reach more than 100,000 companies, according to the Minister of Employment

Mr Pakula said the additional support of $ 367 million is expected to reach more than 100,000 businesses in Melbourne.

“We are very grateful for the spirit of continued cooperation in which the Commonwealth approaches the issue of business and income support,” he said.

Mr Pakula said the money, which would mainly be distributed automatically to companies that had already qualified for support under existing funds, fell into the following three categories:

  • The Commonwealth’s COVID-19 Disaster Payment, which is open to eligible workers across the state who are losing hours due to the lockdown, as well as individual businesses who lose their jobs and are not eligible for Victorian government support
  • The Small Business COVID Hardship Fund, which will provide grants of $ 10,000 to small and medium-sized businesses across the state. It will be administered by Business Victoria and will focus on companies legally authorized to operate but subject to severe restrictions.
  • Automatic payments of $ 2,800 to over 95,000 businesses in Metropolitan Melbourne through the Business Cost Assistance Program and automatic payments of up to $ 20,000 to eligible businesses under the Licensed Hospitality Venue Fund
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