"People say you should always back yourself. The SAS says ‘he who dares, wins.’ The Latin proverb is ‘fortune favours the brave.’ I say ‘naivety is a wonderful thing.’ "
When Bec and Robbie Bell set off on their City Larder journey, moving into a bigger and better space was always in the back of Robbie's mind. To do that, a lot would need to go right. A lot of hard work. A lot of early mornings, a lot of weekends, a lot of late nights. After all of that, their vision has come to fruition. But the road to where they are now started a long time ago.
Seven years in the making
“Two years in a shared kitchen, and five years in our own kitchen," Robbie explains. Shared, smaller kitchens meant having to make do with less room to move and less room to create. Every inch of bench space and oven rack was tightly allocated every minute of the day. With the business growing rapidly, the constraints of the smaller space quickly became no longer viable.
"It was time to move," he says. "We got the opportunity to design a purpose-built manufacturing facility in Coburg from scratch. Something I’d visualised doing for the last seven years. The only thing was, it was in the middle of a pandemic."
Covid-19 threw in a whole raft of extra challenges such as restrictions on movement, including who can work where, as well as delays within the construction industry. Timelines and budgets were as tight as possible.
"But it was nothing we couldn’t overcome together. The thing I’m most proud of is we managed to move the whole business within 48 hours and didn’t miss one order nationally."
When it finally came to moving day, it was all hands on deck. You don't realise how much this entails until it comes time to lift, slide, tilt, and tetris it all into a truck. And to get that all done we needed everyone from the kitchen to the packing room to the office to get involved. While it is sad to say goodbye to our Bell St home for the last five years, it is time to make way for the future of the business.
"We now have a space that we can invite people into," Bec explains. "Whether it's for a lunch at the new test kitchen or a behind-the-scenes look at the production aspect, this makes City Larder more tangible."
This isn’t an upgrade; this is all in
Everything being done now is being done with one eye on the future. From new machinery to new processes, it's all about growth.
"This is a 20 to 30 year investment," Robbie says. "We’re obsessed with quality, consistency, and most of all hygiene. It’s the fundamentals, and it’s the foundation for what everything else is built on."
Bec knows the sky is the limit at the new facility, both for the business, and the team.
"Being able to bring the team together under one roof is great. Previously, we were operating the warehouse and office out of Alphington, and the kitchen at Heidelberg Heights, so being able to have whole team lunches together will be fantastic," she says.
"This also allows us to take production to the next level."