Why this 25-year-old, family-run pasta store is closing its doors for good

Yarra Valley Pasta

An artist's impression of the Yarra Valley Pasta store. Source: Yarra Valley Pasta on Facebook.

A much-loved pasta store in Healesville, Victoria is closing its doors after 25 years, but while COVID-19 and ongoing economic pressure may have played a role, they’re not the main reason for the closure.

In a post shared on Facebook and Instagram, Yarra Valley Pasta owner Lisa Giffard said “the time has come to say goodbye” to the Italian food store, which was founded by her mother Maria Colaneri in 1997.

“The time has come to take a well-earned break and to enjoy precious time with those I love and in doing so, re-group and rediscover my passion for the craft of cooking that my beautiful Mum taught me,” Giffard wrote.

She noted the “unprecedented challenges” of the past two years, as well as the ongoing struggles still facing small businesses, and those still to come.

“Supply, logistics and staffing across the board is dominating and dampening the vibe in the food production industry and hospitality,” she wrote.

“I have been doing this long enough now to feel that the next few years will be about ‘reacting’ to so many issues like staffing, raw material supply and inflation, amongst other pressing demands.”

However, the closure doesn’t necessarily come as a result of these challenges. Giffard has a young family and cares for her mother, who suffers from a rare brain disease.

As she wrote in her post, “family always comes first”.

The business itself will not be sold, but its three Healesville properties will be going on the market.

The Yarra Valley Pasta brand will be “parked”, while Giffard makes plans for its next iteration.

Giffard’s post on Facebook has attracted more than 250 comments from customers and friends of the business. The Instagram post currently has 100 comments.

“My heart is aching,” one Facebook user wrote.

“So happy for you and sad for us!”

Another shared how Yarra Valley Pasta helped her and her partner celebrate two anniversary dinners in lockdown, “and so many more beautiful family dinners”.

Others called her decision “beautiful and brave”, or simply lamented the loss of the store’s beetroot linguine.

The closure of a regional staple raises questions around when it’s the right moment to ‘call time’ on a small business, as Giffard puts it.

This is not an insolvency or a business entering administration. It’s a personal decision on behalf of the business owner herself.

“It’s overwhelming. That’s the crux of it,” Giffard tells SmartCompany.

It can be easy for small business owners to become bogged down in the day-to-day of running a business, she explains.

“It starts to be very uninspiring.”

Where once she was cooking and coming up with new recipes, now Giffard spends her time in the office, managing payroll and admin and worrying about rising inflation and the cost of wheat.

“It just goes on and on and on,” she says.

“I used to be a great cook. I used to love cooking … and now I’m stuck out in the office putting out fires all day.”

Taking a step back will make it easier for her to make a good decision about the next phase of the business, she says. It’s her business, and her prerogative to do so.

“I really need to think about the reasons why we started in the first place with mum — true passion about what we did.”


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