Bendigo hospitality industry tackles major change
Food culture in Bendigo is undeniably going through a growth spurt - be it coffee, restaurants or accommodation.
La Piazza owner Carlo Barri has been a big part of past growth and on the weekend he was recognised for his hard work.
For forty years Carlo Barri has supported the Bendigo hospitality industry through his involvement building and working in many restaurants in the area.
He has owned and operated La Piazza for five of those years.
On the weekend his family celebrated his contributions to the industry by hosting an event at the La Piazza restaurant.
The well-experienced restaurateur said there was now a whole new culture in Bendigo.
He said there was so many different options of cuisine in Bendigo.
Mr Barri said when he first started out in the industry there were only a few restaurants.
"People were not dining out as much back then," he said.
In the late 1990s the culture began to change.
"Bendigo was more of a country town and now it is more of a city," Mr Barri said.
"Our population has grown and now more people are dining out.
"Bendigo has so much to offer."
Mr Barri started his career at The Persian Room, now The All Seasons, in the 1970s.
He then worked at Maxines in Bath Lane in the early 1980s.
Mr Barri worked alongside others to develop the Bath Lane precinct into what it is today.
The Epicurean Delicatessen part-owner Tony Ciancio owned Green Olive in Bath Lane for 21 years.
He celebrated with his old friend Carlo Barri on the weekend.
Mr Ciancio said he enjoyed remembering how far Bendigo had come in food culture.
He said Mr Barri had contributed much to the building of the restaurant culture in Bendigo.
He said it was a great way to recognise not only Mr Barri's hardwork but also how far Bendigo had come.
"I think (40 years of service) is not something that happens everyday," he said.
"It is a long time and it has been a really changing time, in many ways."
He said Mr Barri was well ahead of his time in regards to hospitality.
"He made a name for himself in this area and now he is well-known," he said.
"Carlo and I played a role in what Bendigo is today."
He said he and Mr Barri were instigators in widening the paths and increasing dining facilities in Bath Lane.
"It is better to work together," he said.
"Doing that was a wonderful thing."
Mr Ciancio opened The Epicurean Delicatessen seven years ago with his wife and daughter.
Mr Ciancio said he had enjoyed his time spent in the industry.
The Schaller Studio general manager Carl Forrest said he noticed a change in the Bendigo culture.
Mr Forrest said he had more than 20 years experience in the hospitality industry "working all across the world".
He said the style of service in the area was now more concentrated on customer engagement.
He said customers were still looking for authentic experiences at restaurants and hotels alike.
"The modern tourist is not looking for anything that is staged," he said.
"We have the opportunity to show them Bendigo."