What you need to know

Why eating bánh mì makes you a hero (by keeping a Moonee Ponds local in a job)

Justin Wibrow wants to make one thing clear, when it comes to his business he’s all about supporting the local area.

“We do everything we can for local,” he said.

Justin and his wife Julie have been Moonee Ponds residents for more than a decade.

In 2016 they opened Vietnamese restaurant Ba Sar in Puckle Street.

Experienced restaurateurs, the pair saw opportunity in the growth of the Moonee Ponds shopping area and the future surge in residents as people moved into the apartment towers being developed nearby.

Fast forward 4 years, the Hall Street apartments are up, and the world is suffering through a global pandemic.

Justin is upfront about the impact the coronavirus has had on his business.

“Covid’s been okay for us, we’re actually up, not down as a business,” Justin said.

At a time when other food businesses are suffering under tight trading restrictions, Justin believes Ba Sar’s success is reflective of the local support.

“We’ve seen a tremendous swell of community support for our business,” he said.

“There’s just been the general view that people want to help people during these times.”

With more people working from home than ever before, Julie and the team are noticing their weekend customers are now visiting Monday to Friday as well.

They’ve also found new customers as residents walk a little further than they usually would and, in the process, rediscover the neighbourhood.

“You’ve got a lot of very tired dogs who’ve walked a lot of kilometres in the last couple of months but their owners who’ve definitely got a feeling that things go beyond one particular area,” Justin said.

Another sign of support – tips.

Delivery services like Uber Eats are allowing customers to leave restaurants tips during the pandemic and Justin says people have been very generous.

“They’ve been quite substantial, so that’s another anecdotal sense of people showing support for a business during these times,” he said.

Ba Sar’s local-first motto extends to hiring too, job adverts have never progressed beyond the front window, with all staff within walking distance of the restaurant, some just a few doors down.

It means the restaurant’s success is keeping Moonee Valley residents in jobs without the need for government help like Jobkeeper.

It’s why Justin has a simple message for everyone who’s tucked into a Ba Sar banh mi lately.

“It’s really simple: Thank you, local support is a beautiful circular thing,”

“You support us, we support you.”

Moonee Valley Mayor Cr Samantha Byrne said the ‘support local’ message is something all of us can embrace during Stage 3 restrictions.

“Something as simple as ordering a meal from a restaurant near your home, or buying groceries online from a local trader can make a difference,” she said.

“We all need to band together to help each other get through this.”

Ba Sar
24 Puckle St, Moonee Ponds
(03) 9042 5192

Our ‘Support Local’ series explores how Moonee Valley businesses are operating during the coronavirus pandemic. Tell us about your business by sending an email to media@mvcc.vic.gov.au