The Café Helping Its Community Soar

Wings Food Café

1. No Poverty 3. Good Health and Well-Being 5. Gender Equality 10. Reduced Inequalities 12. Responsible Consumption and Production

Overview

Wings Food Café offers a unique proposition for its innovation in a highly competitive and saturated industry. The business focuses on four main facets in its innovative offerings, which include unique, healthy, and organic recipes; an inclusive, gender-neutral work environment; heavy involvement in its local community; and the move towards incorporating renewably sourced energy and packaging.

Interview Video

Author

Trimmaine Wellappulli Arachchige

Trimmaine Wellappulli Arachchige

School

Monash University

Monash University

Professor

Gitanjali Bedi

Gitanjali Bedi

Innovation

The innovations Wings Food Café has developed unique to the Sri Lankan culinary industry within Australia can be broken down into four components:

  • A unique cooking style of healthy Sri Lankan cuisine. The key selling point of Wings Food Café is the ability to stay true to authentic Sri Lankan flavors while catering to their target audience. Jude Perumal has dedicated himself to transforming the concept of Sri Lankan cuisine in Melbourne by introducing a variety of new pastries and rolls along with curries and boxed meals.
  • A gender-neutral and immigrant-friendly hiring policy, which places a "strong emphasis on providing employment opportunities for immigrants, high school and university students." The rationale behind this inclusive hiring practice the business operates is to provide opportunities for disadvantaged members of the workforce within the community.
  • The shift toward a fully solar-powered operation and sustainable packaging made entirely from sugarcane is already in the works, with implementation groundworks for the latter fast approaching. A zero-plastic dining policy is the model employed at Wings Food Café in the hope of minimizing its environmental impact.
  • Community involvement and charitable practices have also been integrated into the Wings Food Café business model.

The Café Helping Its Community Soar

Inspiration

The main inspiration behind the business and its sustainable model as stated by the owner was the "health of his wife and the family conditions surrounding them," which led Jude to decide to change career paths and open his own business as it would provide him with the best opportunity to take care of and provide for his family. In addition, it has also given them a chance to stay together and secure the family's future, all while providing his two sons the opportunity to learn and grow while being a part of the business. The renewed focus on environmental sustainability also comes from his family, as Jude realizes there is more he can do going forward to make the world a better place for his children.

Jude’s roots and his own journey to Australia from his homeland of Sri Lanka act as another inspiration behind the inclusivity innovation. Jude is originally a Sri Lankan citizen who migrated to Australia in the 1990s for his higher education and in search of greater opportunities. He is therefore very aware of the struggles faced by many migrants coming into Australia from abroad due to the lack of economic opportunity in their respective home countries. This led him to adopt a highly inclusive employment policy to try and provide as much opportunity to those who share similar disadvantaged backgrounds.

Overall impact

The overall impact of the innovations Wings Food Cafe implements translates to a healthier community along with increased levels of employment opportunity for underprivileged members of the community. Furthermore, long-term impacts such as reduced emissions and renewable energy contribute to less environmental desegregation and a safer, stronger community brought together by the business' initiatives.

Business benefit

Jude hopes that his actions in Melbourne will act as the first step to transform the culinary industry's perspective on sustainability in his home country of Sri Lanka and facilitate expansion. His vision going forward is to use the connection he has with his suppliers to communicate and transfer the business model he developed and employs so effectively in Australia back home to promote aspects such healthier food for public consumption, gender-neutral and inclusive hiring practices, increased community involvement and support, and the move toward renewable energy and a zero-plastics operating system, which is still relatively new and highly uncommon for a developing economy.

Social and environmental benefit

New recipes benefit society, as they change the perceptions of Sri Lankan foods as unhealthy and extremely oily foods that lack nutritional value. Going forward, the new recipes will illustrate how Sri Lankan food can be prepared to maximize nutritional value while maintaining rich flavors. Jude aims to expand the business and in doing so increase exposure of these recipes to society so consumers can incorporate them into their daily lives even while cooking at home. The UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) targeted through this innovation of the business include Goal 3, Good Health and Well-Being. Furthermore, the business provides assurances that groceries imported from Sri Lanka have been done so through screening all international suppliers to ensure their operations are ethical.

The equal opportunity for employment and the ability to jump-start and progress working carriers at Wings Food Café go hand in hand with UN SDG 5, Gender Equality, and Goal 10, Reduced Inequalities. Direct benefits of this hiring policy for the business employees are that it currently is well beyond its targeted 50/50 split of diversity among workers. The business currently holds a favorable ratio of 70/30. Members of the Endeavour Hills community who have struggled to find employment have greatly benefited, as the café has always prioritized providing employment to those who struggle to find opportunity.

The move toward more sustainably sourced energy in the future will greatly reduce the company’s environmental impact and help offset some of its emissions. Wings Food Café is currently partially solar powered, with a target set to be fully solar powered by 2021 and entirely utilize biodegradable sugarcane packaging by 2020. These ongoing initiatives will cover the business' commitment to UN SDG 7, Clean Energy, as well as SDG 12, Responsible Consumption and Production.

Highlighting the company's attempt at alignment with UN SDG 1, No Poverty, and SDG 2, Zero Hunger, are the initiatives to support local community and social events by catering to fundraisers free of charge. This helps bring the community together and build a stronger, safer environment for all its residents. Furthermore, the company’s ongoing policy of "donating a certain proportion of their profits to charities such as gospels through the nations," which focus predominantly on reducing poverty and providing education in developing countries such as India and Sri Lanka, emphasizes the firm’s commitments to these UN SDGs.

Video Link

Interview

Jude Perumal, Owner

Keep this story going! Share below!

Wings Food Café

Wings Food Café

Melbourne, Victoria, AU

Business Website: N/A

Year Founded: 2004

Number of Employees: 2 to 10

Wings Food Café is a privately owned café and Sri Lankan grocer located in Endeavour Hills, Melbourne, and run by Jude Perumal and his family. The café has been running successfully for the past 15 years and has integrated itself well into the local community. Wing Food Café has established itself as the leading restaurant for Sri Lankan cuisine in the area and has built up strong relationships with its customers.