Your Local Legend, Shaun

Colombo Social began when two high school best friends, Shaun and Peter, decided to start a restaurant with a desire to give back. 


Early into their success, COVID-19 hit and the restaurant was forced to close due to restrictions. Instead of hoping to stay afloat, Shaun and Peter made a commitment to hiring community members who were not eligible for benefits and left without support from the Australian Government. Shaun and Peter donated every cent they received across their 4 month operation into the establishment of a charity that would feed those suffering serious food insecurity. Thus, PlateitForward was born. 


PlateitForward is now a DGR registered charity with three business units operating under it's name including the comercial restaurant Colombo Social, The Social Meal - a food donation program, and Ability Social - a paid training program.


Learn More about Shaun, one of our Local Legends Here!


What do you love the most about your job and business?

We have the best customers in the World. This includes those at Colombo Social who are so socially conscious and caring but also the thousands of customers each week who enjoy the meals that we donate.

Their feedback fills our heart with joy knowing it helps but their smiles, their courage and their resilience is inspirational and keeps us going. Every time we are in the community and distributing our meals we are met with such a sense of warmth, acceptance and hospitality. It is emotional and touching.


How do you stay connected with your customers during lockdown?

I started using the Instagram thing and posting videos. I really enjoy it and interacting with our customers. I think we lost a lot of followers because of it but I find it fun.


How has COVID and lockdown changed your business in the long term?

Lockdown 1.0 saw us transition from a socially conscious restaurant to a charity and donating meals to our communities doing it tough. We were doing 1,000 meals a week then, and now are doing over 3,000 meals a week to those that just need some support. It has fundamentally changed everything, and we have engrained a spirit of giving back even more into every new venture. It has changed our business, our community and us personally forever in such a special way.


What message would you send to other businesses struggling to navigate the complexity of lockdowns?

I feel ya. We are all struggling, but we are all in this together. When we come back and we will come back stronger, remember all other businesses went through things similar. If you are in a shopping centre know that the store owner or staff next door faced the same challenges so practice kindness and empathy. Also, customers are going to want to support you so be ready for a bumper Christmas!!


What is the first thing you will do when lockdown ends?

Lunch at my parent's house with my Mum's Biryani and her famous curries and plenty of hugs from my nieces.


How can the community support your business?

Buy the Banquet at Colombo Social. For every banquet meal, we donate a meal to our community, so you get the best of our menu and do good at the same time.


If you had a superpower, what would it be?

Can I eradicate COVID? If so that surely is something super relevant and helpful.


What are you grateful for during these challenging times?

The support of the Community. Companies like Mirvac who donated the space at Harbourside has allowed us to increase our capacity to meet the growing demand as our community experienced hardship. So many other tech companies like Deputy worked with us to donate 100,000 meals and people who reach out and support us with kind messages- it helps us a lot.


What is the go-to thing you order for the table?

Shots of Tequila. Every time. Nobody likes it especially the teenager at the McDonalds Register when I ask. But at any place that serves me, I will order at least one for everyone.


If you weren’t doing this job, what would your dream job be… it can be anything!

Insert corny comment- I love what I do. It isn't a job really, but I get to employ some of the best staff who have overcome trauma and hardship to be the best in class with delivering the best hospitality experiences. We meet the coolest people and do some awesome things. But if I wasn't doing this, I would be Oprah's Dog Walker I reckon. Looking after the most pampered pooch might have some perks.


What is your favourite snack or cocktail to make during lockdown?

I have an air-fryer. I have Waffle Fries every night with Chicken Salt and Peppercorn Chili Oil. Weird combo but try it and you will thank me later.


Is there something about your business that may be a surprise?

The mural isn't my literal Mum but a piece we call Everyone's Amma! It is a reflection and homage to strong females and all our Mums and wise Women who shape us as individuals, our business, our decisions and our community and is always watching out for us.