Julie-Anne and Rob McPherson • Metung
Julie-Anne and Rob feared they might lose their new restaurant when the 2019-20 bushfires threatened Metung, in East Gippsland, prompting evacuation and a disastrous halt to tourism. With help from the Business Recovery Advisory Service, Ramjam Catering Services survived and continues to operate at the Metung Yacht Club.
“Rob and I moved to Metung in September 2019 to take over the running of the restaurant at the Metung Yacht Club,” Julie-Anne shares. “We came to Metung earlier in the year looking for an investment property, and the agent asked if we were interested in running a restaurant at the MYC.”
Agreeing, the couple moved to the charming holiday town and started operating.
They only had a few months of trading and working to establish the restaurant before the bushfires hit. “This was devastating to us, as we had only just started the business.”
They were forced to evacuate Metung and later returned to a ghost town.
Many businesses in Metung rely on peak tourist season over the summer months to carry them financially throughout the year. The bushfires caused holidaymakers to keep their distance, at first due to travel restrictions and then in fear of interrupting the rebuilding of the community.
“We were relying on the income from the holiday trade,” Julie-Anne explains. “This did not happen, and we struggled without that income.”
They applied for financial assistance but were rejected, as they had only been in business in the area for a short period of time. Disappointed by this outcome, they were grateful when their local Business Recovery Adviser reached out to support them.
“The Business Recovery Advisory Service has been wonderful with the help and advice it has given us,” Julie-Anne says. Their local adviser offered assistance in recruitment, helping the pair provide local employment opportunities with the added goal of benefiting their business financially.
“The adviser connected us to the local employment agency to find staff. It was a relief to have an adviser help us navigate the various support and assistance available to us.”
The bushfires, followed by long-lasting COVID-19 restrictions, had a significant impact on East Gippsland businesses such as Ramjam Catering Services. With the intention of attracting potential customers back to their community—and specifically to their restaurant—Julie-Anne and Rob received one-on-one resilience mentoring to gain a better understanding of marketing channels, which covered training on social media.
“We have set up Facebook and Instagram pages to help with marketing our business,” Julie-Anne says. “The one-on-one training has been a great help and gave me a better understanding of how powerful it can be.”
They were also advised by the Business Recover Advisory Service that there were grants available to help with the costs of setting up their own website. “The adviser continues to support the business through recovery planning and resilience mentoring on website development, marketing, and brand promotion.”
“We would definitely recommend the Business Recovery Advisory Service to anyone needing help,” Julie-Anne states. “It has been instrumental in helping us get back on our feet!”
The Business Recovery Advisory Service is a free one-on-one session available to business owners located in East Gippsland, Wellington and North East Victoria. Book an appointment today.