Chatting to Blayne Bertoncello, you wouldn’t be able to tell that his bread and butter had burned down just days ago on Friday November 13.
Tragedy struck when a fire engulfed O.My restaurant in Beaconsfield one day after it reopened its doors since Melbourne’s second lockdown. The restaurant itself operated in Beaconsfield’s first post office with the building being close to 150 years old.
Together with his brother, Chayse Bertoncello, the two created the award-winning bistro in 2013 and soon incorporated their farm which flipped the experience on its head. Since then, the duo have focussed on seasonality with all fruit and vegetables sourced from their own farm.
But it’s Bertoncello’s positivity which might be his most impressive feat yet. He still maintains his sense of humour even when he’s in the thick of it which is a testament to his success. He’s also grateful for the community and acknowledges the hardships the industry has faced this year.
“It’s all been pretty devastating for everyone involved but we’re moving forward pretty fast. We can’t get too upset and let it keep us down,” he said.
“The community response has been incredible. We always talk about how much we love the area and how supportive everyone is, but when this happened it was crazy. People have offered us their pubs, cafés, restaurants to operate in. We’ve received hundreds of emails to the restaurant, my brother’s (who’s not involved with the restaurant) wife set up a GoFundMe and nearly $30,000 has been donated by the local community. And all the restaurants in Victoria who have sent us their love, wine and meals for us to eat. It’s been amazing.”
The GoFundMe fundraiser was originally set at a target of $15,000 but since assessing the insurance and damage that was done the family increased it to $50,000. On top of the damage caused, the brothers also must face the costs involved with not being able to trade for a four week period, including paying their staff, weekly overheads, the massive amount of now-tarnished stock they ordered, potential new equipment costs and renovation costs for their new venue which they’re signing the lease for shortly.
“We’re hoping to take over a new place, renovate it, re-set it and reopen before the year’s end. But we’re determined and we’ve got great support. We won’t stop until we’re back open,” he said.
Fortunately, no one was physically harmed by the fire, but it was a harsh end to an already trying year for the family. “We started this as two young guys with no investors and we’ve been chipping away where we can. The community has seen us do this and for the venue to burn down in 15 minutes wasn’t cool. That being said, we’re incredibly grateful to the community,” said Bertoncello.
The team is still $20,000 away from their target goal. If you would like to donate to O.My Restaurant’s GoFundMe campaign, you can do so here.