Riverina coffee shop Bilbul store set to close

THE SURVIVAL of a Riverina coffee shop has proven too tall of an order against the threat of powerhouse franchises. 

The Bilbul store, near Griffith, has been forced to close, despite its owners trying to keep the business alive “with every cell in their bodies”. 

Brendon Marcanio and Chiara Armanini confirmed the store would close its doors forever on Friday, March 31.

The Bilbul school.

The Bilbul school.

END OF AN ERA: Brendon Marcanio stands behind the counter at the soon to close Bilbul Store near Griffith.

END OF AN ERA: Brendon Marcanio stands behind the counter at the soon to close Bilbul Store near Griffith.

The closure comes as another blow for the small Bilbul community – which lost its school only a few years ago – making the decision to quit tough for the duo.

“You have to take your heart out of the decision and only use your head,” Ms Armanini said.

“We have had a lot of strong supporters who have stood by us, but for the store to continue there wasn’t enough local support, and we completely understand why that is.

“However, there does need to be a serious awareness of why these things happen though and people do need to understand why people like us can’t continue on.”

While there were a number of factors behind the decision to shut up shop the pair said in a time when smaller businesses are continually under threat from larger companies, it had increasingly become more difficult to remain competitive and stay afloat at the same time.

“Times have changed, and with the competition from big supermarkets we just can’t sell $2 milk here,” Mr Marcanio said.

“You did have to pay a bit more for the convenience of walking down the road.”

Despite the sad news, and the many 12 hour days, the pair said they will be leaving with many fond memories of their two year stints as local storekeepers.

“People come in here just for a five minute job and leave one-and-a-half hours later,” Mr Marcanio laughed, before adding that over the years many in the local community many had become like part of an extended family.

Ms Armanini and Mr Marcanio said John and Irene Bortolazzo had been two of their most stalwart supporters, doing their best to help save the business.

The shop and post office not only dates back to 1935 and 1922 respectively, but also was long labelled the “home of the town’s best pizza.”

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