Business Snapshot: Colombo's

Posted: 1st May

This article appeared in the Swan Hill Region Business Newsletter - April 2020  produced by Swan Hill Rural City Councils Economic Development Unit. The newsletter is to keep local business informed about what is going on in our region and what resources are currently available.

If you are interested in appearing in Business Snapshot, email

Stephen and Cindy Colombo operate Colombo’s Cafe & Pasta Bar in McCrae Street. Steve is also the new Chairman of the Swan Hill Incorporated Traders Committee. When the Victorian government announced Stage 2 restrictions on 23 March 2020, Steve did what he always does when it comes to business decisions, “take the helicopter view”. In these incredible times, Steve and his team decided to get on with the job and offered us with a snapshot of the business.

You talk about taking a helicopter view, what does that mean?
For me, it’s about thinking and getting outside the four walls of the business. To make decisions, you need to understand not only what is happening in the industry and out on the street, but it is equally important to understand the local economic climate. I’ve learnt and continue to learn a lot from discussions with other local business owners, employees and of course our customers.

Working in hospitality, when do you have a chance to chat to other people?
Our customers get our attention at every interaction and we actively listen to what they are saying. Since becoming involved with the Traders Committee, I’m a lot more comfortable calling in on random businesses to check in and say ‘Hi’ and have found there is a generous spirit in the sharing of knowledge, especially now.

So what ideas have you implemented to keep trading in these changed conditions?
We looked at all the tools and resources we already had like our website and Facebook page. We were underutilising both, especially the website as we weren’t strongly communicating nor were we taking online orders. By understanding our customer demographic we have focused on the food they love and how to get it to them. 

Its lasagna isn’t it?  
Yes, lasagna is a favourite however we offer a huge range and wide variety of foods that make up other favourites.

So what happens next, back to the helicopter view for the next great idea?
I’m not one to take all the credit, my team work incredibly hard and all contribute. A great idea is only successful if it's implemented correctly and that’s where Cindy comes in. She not only grounds me but ensures we are working on the right ideas for our business