North-West Melbourne small businesses celebrated for milestones

18 Small Business Awards
18 Small Business Awards
Kaylah Joelle Baker

Kensington, West Melbourne and North Melbourne small businesses are being celebrated in all categories of the 2022 Lord Mayor’s Small Business Awards.

Previously known as the Lord Mayor’s Commendations Awards, the awards recognise 49 small businesses that are determined contributors to the city’s culture and economic prosperity.

In addition to North Melbourne boutique wallpaper art and signage business Grafico Group taking home the top award, numerous other North-west Melbourne small businesses have been acknowledged for their commitment for more than 10, 20 and 40 years.

Celebrating a triumphant effort of reaching 40-plus years in business is Michael Cardamone of Amiconi Restaurant, and his business partners Joe Muso and Vince Alfonso who came onboard 15 years ago.

“Now that I am in the over-40 category, it is an honour to be recognised,” Mr Cardamone said.

“In the good old days, at 40 years most people [and businesses] were on the last legs of their life, because 40 years is a long time to be consistent in one area. But when you do something you like doing, it’s not a job, it’s more of a vocation.”

Starting as a family-run business, the West Melbourne restaurant sticks true to its roots of being a reliable hospitality venue for the community, something Mr Cardamone said was not always the case today.

“The meaning of hospitality in our industry today has been lost due to everything being computerised and fast food, and we have forgotten that customers are going out to have dinner and to be entertained,” he said.

“I always say that our industry is hospitality focused on entertainment because people go out to have a good time and the essence of a restaurant is for people to have a great experience when dining, and that includes interactions with staff and chefs.”

Although already a restaurant people can rely on for an experience, in a suburb that is “really coming into its own”, Mr Cardamone said the recognition was “great”.

“Small businesses are the backbone of the economy, and the government should understand small businesses need support more than the large multinationals,” he said.

The West Melbourne Calmatronics team and owner Phil Calvert are also celebrating being recognised within the 20-plus category, after running for more than 30 years.

As a hardware store ready to help people when they are in need of any lighting supplies, Mr Calvert’s store has been the go-to spot for many locals.

“You just feel like you are part of the community because you know people who are walking down the street every week, and you get to help out the locals,” Mr Calvert said.

As a walk-in retailer and wholesaler, Calmatronics is also online and available to always help not only its direct community but also those in the wider community.

Among the other small businesses recognised are Kensington’s Rendina Real Estate and Jissara Hair, and North Melbourne’s Twenty & Six Espresso for their 10-plus years of service.

The small businesses recognised all play a part in continuing to prove their importance in a city that is built on independent and unique stores.

Following the award show that took place late July, the council’s small business portfolio lead Cr Jason Chang said small businesses were critical to Melbourne’s economy and contributed to the buzz of the city.

“These awards are a celebration of many years of hard work, often building a small business from the ground up, establishing a loyal customer base and adding real flair and character,” Cr Chang said.

The Lord Mayor’s Small Business Awards have been celebrating the small businesses that make up the city since 2005. •


Photo caption 1: Amiconi Restaurant owner Michael Cardamone.

Photo caption 2: Calmatronics owner Phil Calvert.

Photography by Murray Enders.

John Buncle

John Buncle

February 14th, 2024 - Felicity Jack
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