Charcoal Lane closing after a 12-year service
16 August 2021 at 4:28 pm
The social enterprise, once visited by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, is getting ready to serve its last dish with the building being re-occupied by its owners.
After 12 years of providing hospitality training to Indigenous youth, the award-winning restaurant and social enterprise Charcoal Lane is closing its doors for good.
Since the Mission Australia social enterprise opened in 2009, Charcoal Lane’s goal has been to combine a training program for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people with a fine-dining experience that would bring native ingredients to inner-city Melbourne.
By featuring native bush ingredients like emu, wild boar, wattleseed and lemon myrtle on their menu, Charcoal Lane proved it was not only ahead of its time but committed to connecting with the culture of Gertrude Street’s Wurundjeri People.
Meanwhile, Charcoal Lane’s hospitality training program has supported over 300 young Indigenous people over the last 12 years, with 70 per cent of its students moving off welfare and into jobs or education.
The next chapter for the building
The social enterprise has been run in partnership with the Victorian Aboriginal Health Service (VAHS), with the restaurant being housed in the building once used by VAHS to deliver its services.
When Charcoal Lane moves out on 16 September, VAHS will move back in.
Michael Graham, VAHS CEO, thanked Mission Australia for its management of Charcoal Lane and its support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people.
“When Mission Australia opened Charcoal Lane in 2009, they breathed new life into this building which has immense cultural and historical significance for our local Aboriginal community,” Graham said.
“We are looking forward to the next chapter for this building where we will continue to provide vital healthcare to our community.
“VAHS staff and services has grown exponentially since 2009 and [we intend] to revamp the much-needed space to cater for the ever-increasing demand for VAHS programs and services for our community to safely ensure their health and wellbeing especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
A poignant farewell
Troy Crellin, Mission Australia’s manager of social enterprise for Victoria, said they were proud to return the iconic Gertrude Street building back to VAHS so the organisation could re-establish the site.
“We believe we have honoured the cultural heritage and significance of this building and are proud to return the place that we’ve called home for more than a decade, back to VAHS,” Crellin said.
“We would like to thank everyone who has ever dined at Charcoal Lane, ordered takeaway during lockdown and those who have held events and enjoyed our catering. We are so grateful for everyone’s contribution and belief in a vision for reconciliation led by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people over the past 12 years.”