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Local Business: Villa D’oro moves into Fairy Meadow

Jan 26, 2024

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The opening of Villa D’oro in Fairy Meadow brings its owner Claude Guido back to where his food story all began.

Claude started as an apprentice at The Fraternity Club in the ‘70s and today has adapted his own 23-year business from one that caters for functions to now offering a cafe and at-home dining experiences.

Over the years, it has transitioned from catering for balls, real estate fundraisers, networking events and weddings at the Flinders Street Function Centre to at-home dining picked up from the Croation Club in Figtree during COVID when functions were no longer possible.

The business has kept up this pickup menu long after lockdowns have finished - but is now based in a new home, it's cafe at 12-16 Princes Hwy Fairy Meadow.

Here is Claude’s story.

When and how did the business start?

We were well known for our function centre in Flinders Street. We had that for 23 years and then COVID hit in 2020 and that put a total grind to our business.

Obviously everyone was starting to get concerned and staff were getting concerned and me being the owner, I was concerned for my family and our business. So we decided to sell some pastas to make ends meet for a little bit of time and that took off and here we are today.

Out of COVID, a new business was born.

What was your hospitality experience prior to that?

I did my apprenticeship at The Fraternity Club in the ‘70s. I also managed Portafino in its heyday.

I bought Villa D’oro in 2001 and was there till 2023, and then we got the sad news that (we had to move out of the venue). We had to think about what we were going to do and I was still umming and ahhing as to whether I still wanted to do functions or if I'd had enough of functions.

Then out of the blue, this shop became a thought. We thought well, we've got six to eight months to kill and so we went to the Croatian Centre at Figtree. We kept doing our takeaways and our catering business out of there. That was handy and they were very good to us. They wanted us to stay there.

We moved here (in November) and away we’ve gone.

Why is at-home catering still popular post COVID?

I think the products we were making were a good product for a reasonable price. We were probably fortunate that we've got a loyal clientele base and just kept coming – and still do.

That at-home menu, which is our pickup lasagnes, cannellonis, veals, chickens, all those is still more than 60 per cent of our business.

Why Fairy Meadow?

I guess because the opportunity arose. I kept looking around this area because I thought what we wanted to create here was that someone would come in and order a fresh plate of pasta, we'd put it in a takeaway container and they can go home and eat it or sit outside and eat it.

Then the idea of that panini was born and we're doing a fairly good trade of that as well. But it’s our lasagnes and cannellonis - people just walking in grab a tray of lasagna or cannelloni.

The trade we’re getting from people just walking in, it’s quite impressive.

You had been doing functions like weddings, graduations and balls for a long time at Flinders Street Function Centre. What do you now enjoy about catering?

We didn't do too much catering. Not that there wasn’t a need for it, but we didn’t probably promote that area, whereas we promote it now because it’s part and parcel of our business.

The catering is a huge part of our business now where we drop off food to people's houses, surf clubs, wherever they want us to.

We did a wedding last Saturday for a beautiful couple at home and we do some corporate events at places, but most of the catering we do is just for mums and dads that might have 30-40 people over.

How have you been finding the response so far?

A lot of the community around Fairy Meadow has popped in to say hello to us. We’ve had a massive response from the businesses around Fairy Meadow.

It was the pastor who said it to me that you realise a lot of the hospitality businesses are coming towards this area where we are. And I started to think and he’s kind of right, you've got Pizza Hut, you've got us, there's a cafe and a couple of pizza places.

I think it’s location. It's easy in and out. You're just off Towradgi Road.

Learn more about Villa D’oro.

To learn more about buying, selling or leasing a property in Fairy Meadow and surrounds, contact Joanne on (02) 4285 7400.

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