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The importance of community connection

Local businesses can create a sustainable and inclusive community through the celebration of local product and eco-conscious business approaches.

The owner and driving force behind Elements Eatery, Tracey Fleming, shared her knowledge and tips on how to embrace an environmentally conscious approach to business and foster community connection.

The ‘Hospitality’ category of the Mornington Peninsula Business Excellence Awards recognises businesses that deliver high quality food and/or beverage services to the local community. Businesses in this category provide exceptional customer service to the public, while serving high quality food and/or beverages.

Elements Eatery celebrates sustainability and environmentally responsible practices throughout their business. They won the 2023 Mornington Peninsula Business Excellence Awards in the ‘Hospitality’ category and were overall ‘Business of the Year’.

With a menu made with Australian-grown produce, the café has become a local hit. Judges commended them for their close-knit relationships within the Mornington Peninsula community. Farm-to-table partnerships, seasonal menu rotations and environmentally friendly initiatives demonstrate their dedication to creating a sustainable and eco-conscious environment.

The business supports charity and fundraising initiatives and actively participates in local community events. They are members of local business organisations, and do charity work with organisations like the National Breast Cancer Foundation. Likewise, they also participated in Plastic Free July where customers could purchase a FRESSKO refillable cup or flask to go in a draw to win a $300 sustainable hamper.

Put it forward

Tracey aims to be solution focussed. She tries to use any and every opportunity to turn sometimes challenging experiences into positive outcomes. She believes in investing in her staff and utilises different methods to help further their education and support them. These include things like:

    • Hosting dedicated employee improvement sessions with a staff trainer every six weeks

    • Having multiple staff trained in first aid, and

    • Introducing new technologies and systems during the pandemic lockdowns

Have a look back, reflect and put it forward.

Tracey also strives to be environmentally conscious within her local business. Elements Eatery is committed to eco-sensitive packaging, and in fact they have eliminated all unnecessary single-use plastics in their business. They encourage customers to bring their own disposable cups through a $0.20 discount initiative. Also, they introduced new 100% plastic free, compostable, Australian made takeaway cups. The judges were particularly impressed by this as part of their philosophy to reduce, reuse and recycle.

Love what you do

Elements Eatery has created four different ways for customers to enjoy the Elements Eatery services: dine-in, takeaway, a grab and go kiosk and catering options. As a local business person Tracey values a strong community connection. She loves the Peninsula and understands that the support from the community around her is one of four key success factors to Elements Eatery. The business strategy that Elements Eatery has developed also includes: healthy food choices, inclusion and sustainability. Tracey uses these four focusses to help foster the feeling of connection within her business.

We love everything Peninsula. It’s our fabric. That’s what we’re made of.

Elements Eatery are proud to be operating in Mornington Peninsula Shire. Tracey highlights the importance of building awareness for their local business through their community connections. Judges found their high level of involvement in the local community impressive. Elements Eatery are members of different community clubs within the region, such as Mornington Peninsula Regional Tourism, Sorrento Beachside Tourism and Restaurant and Catering Victoria. Their well-regarded reputation in the community has helped them attain recognition, including the 2023 Nutrition and Healthy Choices Award at Aquatics and Recreation Victoria.

Tracey has shared some more thoughts on winning the 2023 award in the ‘Hospitality’ category to claim ‘Business of the Year’. To listen to the full interview, click on the video below.

Elements Eatery showcases the vital role community engagement has in the prosperity of local businesses. Their constant journey of evolvement and innovation within the hospitality industry has not only fuelled their success but also presented them with avenues for further growth.  

There are many thriving hospitality businesses operating on the Mornington Peninsula. Other finalists in the ‘Hospitality’ category of the 2023 Mornington Peninsula Business Excellence Awards were A Good Little Thing and Commonfolk.

A Good Little Thing is a local takeaway coffee shop serving drinks and homemade food. A Good Little Thing actively participates in the local community, much like Elements Eatery. Judges were impressed with their positive and uplifting approach to marketing takeaway coffee, such as the use of a ‘Pay it forward’ jar instead of accepting tips.

Commonfolk is a local coffee roasting business that supports green bean suppliers and their communities. They have gained a solid reputation in the coffee market in Mornington, supplying coffee beans to many local cafés and coffee shops in the region. Judges found their forward-thinking business impressive, recognising the ethical approach and practical support for their suppliers overseas in Uganda and Colombia.  

The Mornington Peninsula Business Excellence Awards is a chance for local businesses to be supported and celebrated by the community. In 2023, winners across nine diverse categories celebrated their achievements, highlighting their commitment to innovation, sustainability, and exceptional performance within our local business sector.

Find out more about these businesses

Content posted April 2024

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