Local Businesses Rally Behind Community

By Amelia Hanslow

Community spirit has rallied in Parramatta as a range of businesses, despite struggling themselves, have initiated support for those doing it tough: from those who have lost their livelihoods to those working in frontline services keeping our community safe.

“I saw it as an opportunity to do good,” said Mama and Papas pizzeria owner John Chammas, when he was faced with lockdown and a surplus of fresh produce. Over two nights the Parramatta restaurant gave away over 1300 pizzas to the public, encouraging people doing it tough to come and choose from between four varieties and enjoy a free, hot meal.

Mr Chammas was blown away by not only the public’s response, but his staff, many of whom he had to lay off when the full-force of COVID-19 lockdown took effect. When he put the call out for volunteers to cook, serve and man the safe distancing lanes and markers, he had so many of his former staff offer to help that he was able to split up shifts. "I really want to congratulate and thank the staff that came on board and were so happy to do it," he said.

At XS Espresso, staff noticed a lot of nurses coming in late at night for a coffee run from Westmead Hospital. “At first, we were just offering free coffees to those coming in and then we thought we should get the word out as much as possible to all our essential workers currently on the frontlines,” said Nicole Vella, Marketing Manager for the chain.

Now the cafes offer free regular coffees for all healthcare workers (including doctors, nurses, paramedics, GPs, aged and home care workers. “We’ve had lots of nurses coming in for their caffeine fix during their nightshift. Since our North Parramatta and Wetherill Park locations are open until 12am, they’re usually relieved to just see coffee: let alone it being on the house!” 

And these are not the only businesses reaching out a helping hand during these very difficult times. Ribs and Burgers are offering 50 per cent off the total bill across all their outlets for healthcare workers, and The Coffee Club in Carlingford offers free coffee to healthcare workers with any takeaway meal purchased. Other chains with outlets in the Parramatta greater area offering varying deals and freebies for healthcare workers include McDonalds, BP, Woolworths, Hungry Jack’s and Nando’s.

Community members wanting to ‘buy one forward’ and provide a free coffee (or two) to workers at Westmead Hospital can donate into a special fund, where 100 per cent of the donations go towards purchasing hot drinks for workers at this website: https://westmeadhf.org.au/coffee/

We’ll leave the final word to Ms Vella: “We just simply want to say ‘thank you’ to all our healthcare workers working overtime and on the frontlines! Since we can’t give them a hug right now, we thought a coffee will have to do.”

Do you know of a business in the Parramatta region that’s going above and beyond during the COVID-19 pandemic? Drop us a line via hello@discoverparramatta.com and we’d love to feature them in this article.