JEWISH community member Saul Miller, founder and owner of Rare Steakhouse, a chain of restaurants in Melbourne’s CBD, was desperate to find a way to get his employees back to work.
But with the city still battling its sixth lockdown and currently holding the unenviable world record for the most days under lockdown, the once bustling CBD continues to be inhospitable for restaurant owners, who have been forced to lay off employees and risk closing their doors for good.
Watching a documentary by Spike Lee titled NYC Epicentres 9/11 and 2021, which focused on how the Big Apple responded to the crises of the Al-Qaeda attack and COVID-19, Miller was inspired by a charitable effort that was propelling chefs back into kitchens. The documentary showcased Brooklyn for Life! – an initiative formed in New York to help restaurants recover from the pandemic and to feed those on the frontline.
The Caulfield local immediately decided he would be the one to bring the initiative to his beloved Melbourne. Reaching out to Brooklyn for Life!, Miller quickly received mentoring and support to establish Melbourne for Life!
The initiative, which was launched last week with the support of Lord Mayor Sally Capp, hopes to drive hundreds of chefs back into CBD kitchens.
Through donations, the team is hoping to fund each of their restaurant partners, enabling them to provide – at no cost to the recipients – at least 75-100 meals a day for delivery to Melbourne’s frontline workers.
“Restaurants are a culture in Melbourne,” said Miller. “They are where we eat and how we stay connected.”
The team has set up a GoFundMe page and will be donating 100 per cent of funds raised to the creation of delicious meals, served up to healthcare workers and first responders, and eventually to those impacted by the pandemic – individuals and families who have endured financial ruin and suffered deteriorated health.
Capp called the initiative a “wonderful example of Melbourne’s small business owners and the community coming together to support frontline workers who have acted selflessly during the pandemic”.
Noting that the campaign will also help to get hospitality staff back to work during the lockdown, she added, “This model has been a triumph in Brooklyn and I hope it can make a positive difference here in Melbourne too.”
Miller said he would like to thank Jeffrey Wright, Michael and Camille Thompson of the Brooklyn for Life! organisation for their help and advice.
“This could never have happened without their support,” he said.
Donations will help feed fellow Melburnians while keeping popular Melbourne grills and ovens hot.
To find out more or to make a donation, visit melbourneforlife.com.au