A year after launching a Good Will Only vegetarian eatery to help break down barriers and form connections the founders are bringing it back in a new format.
After a 10-month break, food preparation started at The Little Prince on Monday.
The first 800 vegan meals will be ready for delivery to the Wollongong Homeless Hub, Bellambi Neighbourhood Centre and Age Matters on Wednesday. From there they will be distributed for those in need this winter, especially with the COVID-19 forcing more people out of work.
Good Will Only opened at 64 Crown Street last June as a way to give back to the community that supports Scott Mileto and his business partners behind the bars Dagwood, Howlin' Wolf and Births and Deaths.
The businesses run by Scott Mileto, Jared Huk, Luke Symons and Ben Abraham trade under the Good Times Only banner.
They partnered with Caveau Restaurant and Jimmy's Burgers to launch the pay-what-you-want restaurant concept last winter after seeing so many people homeless and trying to stay warm in the streets early in the morning around Wollongong.
"The issue of homelessness was really visible for us so we thought it would be really cool to have them in the same room interacting and breaking down some of those boundaries," Mr Mileto said.
Now they want to continue that work in a way that meets COVID-19 social distancing restrictions.
Good Will Only is preparing and sending out 800 meals a week this winter so people doing it a little hard during the coronavirus crisis have food in the belly and the knowledge that people in their community care.
If demand for the meals is as great as Mr Mileto expects the preparation may need to move to the larger kitchen such as that at Balinese Spice Magic.
He said the original restaurant on a site donated by Jimmy's Burgers connected people in need of social services with the community.
It brought people from all walks of life together and there was a box at the door with no obligation to pay or any set amount to pay for a meal. People could just pay what they feel.
The idea was to create connections through interaction over a meal.
The staff were volunteers and chefs from restaurants and cafes who chipped in to help.
"Last year the focus was specifically about breaking down those social barriers," Mr Mileto said.
"It is not possible in that format this year so we have identified three or four areas where there is definitely a shortage of meals and we are definitely trying to get food out there.
"Due to COVID-19 there are quite a lot of our hospitality friends who are currently unemployed. They are jumping into the kitchen with us".
But with social distancing in place there is a restriction on how many can be involved at any one time.
With a goal of sending out 800 meals a week the biggest challenge Good Will Only has during the coronavirus ciris is covering the cost.
So donations to help it meet the $1200 required each week to buy the ingredients and containers for the meals to go in are welcome at the Good Times Only website.
Mr Mileto said in 2019 Good Will Only meals were available in June.
But this year the timing has been brought forward because of COVID-19.
Each week this winter the prep is being done every Monday. the chefs come in on Tuesday and the meals are sent out on Wednesday.
"Caveau fronted by Simon Evans is leading the charge again in the kitchen," Mr Mileto said.
As for the bars run by the Good Times Only group Births and Deaths is presently shut. Its cocktails are now available from Dagwood which is open for delivery every evening. And Howlin' Wolf Bar has transformed into a boutique bottle shop.
Mr Mileto said that business has been able to retain 17 staff with the aid of JobKeeper.
Watch the interview on ZOOM:
Our COVID-19 news articles relating to public health and safety are free for anyone to access. However, we depend on subscription revenue to support our journalism. If you are able, please subscribe here. If you are already a subscriber, thank you for your support.