The lead up to Christmas this year may be looking a little different to others, but Lara’s Millars Café is very much open for business.
While COVID-19 may have put a dampener on large Christmas parties this festive season, Scott Millar and his team at the popular Lara cafe are welcoming more intimate gatherings of friends and families.
Open since 2015, Millars Café is located in Bisinella’s Grand Lakes Estate, which is now a vibrant home to more than 2000 residents. Situated next to the estate’s popular playground and with an expanse of lakes, wetlands and parklands at your fingertips, Millars has become a magnet for local residents.
But you don’t need to be a local resident to enjoy the popular café. Geelong residents looking to try somewhere new over their festive season are encouraged to make a beeline for Millars.
Known for its coffee, sweet treats, Instagram worthy breakfasts and gourmet lunches, Millars also has a strong focus on using seasonal, high quality ingredients, sourced from local producers.
“It’s a different scenario this year,” Scott Millar explains of the festive season.
“Restrictions have now changed to allow us to accommodate bigger groups but we aren’t going to be able to have the large mingling groups we have had in the past,” he said.
“Bookings for Christmas parties are definitely down, but what we are seeing is an increase in small groups wanting to catch up before Christmas and have that social interaction they have missed for the past nine months.”
“We are seeing lots of family get togethers. For example, groups of 10 made up of two families wanting to catch up and spend time together.”
Mr Millar said he was a big supporter of the Go Local First campaign, aimed at promoting and supporting Australia’s small businesses and the local community in its recovery from COVID-19.
Mr Millar said the café had supported local businesses from day one, inspired by Bisinella Managing Director Lino Bisinella and his team.
“Our dry goods are from a local Geelong family-run business, our eggs are from a free-range farm in Freshwater Creek, our milk is from a family-run organic dairy in Timboon and we use Geelong honey. If we are after local families to support us, we need to support local families as well.”
“We have been so fortunate that the local community has got behind us, supported us and helped us get through,” Mr Millar said of the past nine months.
“We really had to diversify and change what we do and how we do things from the start.”
When lockdown started and cafes were only allowed to serve takeaway food and drinks, Mr Millar opened up an existing coffee window which had been part of the original design of the café.
“I thought it would be a great idea when we first did the build with Lino and Richard Bisinella to have a coffee window. It never really worked though, no one really utilised it. But then once COVID-19 hit it was the best thing we have ever come up with. We closed down the restaurant as per the requirements with the government and started trading out of the window.”
During Victoria’s lockdown, Millars Café remained open for takeaway meals and drinks. The café supported hundreds of local families and households, with many working from home and juggling home schooling.
“I think the big thing we were all missing was the human connection,” Mr Millar explains.
“People would come down and grab a takeaway coffee. They would obviously be social distancing but they would see people they know and get out of their four walls.
“Parents who were home schooling their kids would come down with their kids to break up their day. They would grab a coffee and a treat for the kids and get out of the house. I think that was really important for the kids’ social wellbeing as well as it broke up their day.”
Bisinella Developments Director Richard Bisinella said Scott Millar and the team at Millars Café provide a fantastic service to the local region.
“Millars is a popular spot and a wonderful part of Grand Lakes Estate community. It has been great to see how many people have continued to support local businesses like Millars this year and we hope it continues.”
Millars Café is located at 80 Westlakes Boulevard, Lara. For more details visit www.millarslara.com.au/