But what if all these things were brought under the same roof?
Such is the plan at the upcoming The Craft & Co, which occupies a huge double-storey warehouse at the north end of Smith Street. Owner Paul Baggio has been running wholesale food and beverage companies since the late ‘90s, supplying equipment, packaging and marketing advice to cheese factories, bakers, breweries, wineries and the like. Now he’s giving it a go himself.
“There’s a lot of restaurants hanging up charcuterie or putting cheese in a cabinet to demonstrate that they have it,” he says. “But we’re finding that customers want to eyeball someone making it.” When it opens in November, The Craft & Co will deliver this on a scale never before seen in urban Melbourne.
On the ground floor, a cafe will serve breakfast and lunch every day. It’ll roast its own coffee in six-kilogram batches, and bake its own wood-fired breads and pastries. There will also be a large deli and retail space in the mould of Enoteca Sileno, selling local olive oils, vinegars, and the cheeses and charcuterie made in the rooms upstairs.
Later in the day, a 1000-litre brewhouse and 140-litre pot still will come into their own, producing beer, vodka, gin, grappa and cognac for dinner service. There will also be a cocktail bar upstairs, which will be open from Thursday to Sunday. The upstairs space will otherwise be used for how-to workshops.
The Craft & Co also owns a 40-acre site at Patterson Lakes, where up-and-coming winemakers have been cultivating vines for the past six months. In time a second brewery will be built there and the farm will start raising livestock and growing its own hops and vegetables.
It’s an ambitious project, to put it lightly. And it might struggle to bring all these elements together in a coherent way. Apart from a central kitchen, The Craft & Co won’t regularly staff these various facilities itself. Instead, it’s pinning its hopes on a rotating roster of aspiring “makers”.
“The philosophy is to incubate and give access to capital for upstarts, and provide them with a retail portal,” Baggio says. “In turn, we become a benchmark [for innovation], because there will always be new people with new ideas coming through.”
In effect, The Craft & Co wants to be like a Schoolhouse Studios for food, providing would-be makers with a “studio” to do their thing, attract customers and meet like-minded people. The company has been speaking to several candidates but doesn’t want to reveal names just yet.
One name it’s happy to share is Dom Marzano. The former Grossi Group chef will head up the kitchen, roasting steak, fish and chicken for a cuisine-agnostic menu dictated by what’s happening around it. If the brewery has just made a citrus-driven pale ale, fish spiked with coriander might be on the menu. Pairing products will be a core part of the venue.
The space will seat about 130 people, with room to add more chairs. “We probably could put 200 in, but the retail side is so important,” Baggio says. “Bums on seats are great for business, but we want people to come here and make their produce.”
The Craft & Co will open in November 2015.
The Craft & Co
390 Smith Street, Collingwood