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Mickey’s Fruit & Veg – growing a business

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Mickey’s Wholesale Fruit & Veg, 86 Pitt Street, Redfern, is a healthy eating hub and supplier of fresh produce to dozens of local cafés and restaurants – from Redfern to Bondi, Marrickville and Circular Quay. Hard-working owner Michael Cuomo took time to answer a few questions.

When was Mickey’s established? Has it changed much over the years?
My father Vincenzo started the fruit shop 18 years ago. We tried a deli once, but stock just a few deli items now. We’ve maintained the shop pretty much and developed the wholesale side of the business, which is now dominant – supplying cafes and restaurants, pubs and clubs. I’m fortunate to have very good staff, including Kadek as manager and Lachlan in IT.

Can you describe a typical work day?
My day starts at 2am, buying and ordering, stocktake. Flemington Markets is six days a week, these days we ring the order through and pick-up. The truck is loaded and back in Redfern by 6am. Then we split up the market load, get what we need for orders and load up the utes and vans, send the drivers off to the restaurants. Locals do deliveries on trolleys. I’m in and out all day, checking on things. We close the shop at 5pm, then start picking orders for the next day. I’ve only had four days off in 18 years.

What challenges have you faced during the pandemic, and more recently with regard to supply?
It’s very hard to get stock right now. The floods have taken a toll, many crops are done. We’ll see what happens next season. During the lockdowns, wholesale dropped 70 per cent. Cafes opened for takeaway but didn’t sell much fruit or veg. We managed to stay afloat thanks to our retail business.

Can you recommend delicious and nutritious winter produce?
Imperial mandarins are very good. Apples are perfect this time of year, I like the pink ladies. And brown pears, too.

I like living and working in Redfern because …
The people are genuine. We’ve tried to look after our customers. Many have had Covid and we just looked after them, delivered produce to their homes.

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