By Derek Schlennstedt
The future of Lilydale social enterprise Tasty Az remains unclear, after the enterprise which empowers young people living with disabilities and highlights their inspirational talents was told it had to vacate its current site by April this year.
Since its inception in 2013 the social enterprise has blossomed into a catering and hospitality service that provides specialist training and experience for young people living with disabilities.
Late last year, founder Jules Morman found out that their current site on Mangans Road, Lilydale was due to be developed into units, leaving them displaced.
The Mail spoke to Ms Morman, who said she had faced regular sleepless nights where she would scour the Lilydale area for possible sites.
“It’s been really fabulous to do this here but we’re in a position now where we’re going to be displaced,” Ms Morman said.
“We are catering with a conscience; we nurture and support every young person to reach their own individual potential, to strive for their own goals, while also catering for our community.”
The lack of security surrounding their future has also meant that Jules has had to refuse future applicants.
“I would have had in excess of 12 inquiries over the last four to five weeks,” she said.
“Not having a premises to move to makes me hesitant though … I’d like to say next year we’re taking new applicants but how can you do that if you haven’t got a place to go to?”
The enterprise has already won two prestigious awards since its beginnings and on two occasions has catered for the Premier of Victoria, Daniel Andrews.
Although Ms Morman has searched tirelessly for a new location without result, Yarra Ranges Council recently decided to look at the viability to transform the former Montrose Maternal and Child Health Centre (MCHC) which was due to for demolition as a location for Social Enterprises.
Jules would like to continue to grow the enterprise and employ more young people, but said without the security of having a site to relocate to it would be too difficult.
“We want to grow the training aspect of our business and help as many young people as we can and help them move forward into other opporutunities in our community and we can only do that by having our own space,“ she said.
The possibility that Tasty Az could use the MCHC site as a new location may come to fruition when councillors at the Yarra Ranges Council meeting on 28 November voted to defer the demolition in order to complete a feasibility study in the possible use of the former MCHC building for community use as a social enterprise.
Tasty Az, so-called for the delicious products they create also make a range of jams and chutney’s among other items.
To find out more about Tasty Az got to http://bit.ly/2BvFAGi or ring 0449 028 637