Song Kitchen: creating a small business for charity

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An artist at work creating fresh food on the Song restaurant premises

Ever heard of ‘dining for a cause’?

The inner Sydney’s Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) has launched a new restaurant and bar called Song Kitchen. This isn’t just any ordinary restaurant. The New South Wales branch of the YWCA is responding to an increasing demand for ‘dining for a cause’.

The former Queensland premier Anna Bligh is a current ambassador and the former CEO of the YWCA. She says that more people are starting to embrace hospitality venues that make a difference. “Our new profit for purpose venues are a wonderful way for us to do this and for more people in the community to help us make a difference each day”, she adds.

With 100% of their profits going towards the much-needed support and services for Australians tackling domestic violence, the Song Kitchen is making that difference each day, with every single (delicious) meal.

Dine for a cause at Song Kitchen

Launched in February 2017, the Song Kitchen is building on the YWCA NSW’s leadership in the profit for purpose sector. The charity already runs two hotels in the Sydney CBD called the Song Hotels. They also have a catering contract with Mirvac so operate their staff café and catering services in the Mirvac head office. The Song Kitchen was the final piece of the puzzle.

Formerly the Y Hotel, the Song Hotel had undergone intensive rebranding involving a renovation in 2016. Kate Hurley is YWCA NSW’s Fundraising and Marketing Director. She says before Song Kitchen, the ground floor of the hotel was a vacant space. “That wasn’t really being used for anything,” she says. “So, we thought ‘why not maximise it’. The space was just right for a restaurant.”

Style and fun goes together at Song

Kate explains that YWCA NSW wanted to be more sustainable in the marketplace. “There are thousands of charities and every single one of us are competitive,” she says. “We wanted to be innovative. Rather than having to rely on donations, we came up with a way of creating businesses to bring the profit in.”

As it turns out, this was a brilliant way to raise more money for the charity.

Song Kitchen is run just like any other commercial business. But how does creating a small business to raise money purely for charity work? Kate says, “When you go into a project such as this, you have to think strategically.”

“We knew we had to do this properly. We carefully budgeted the restaurant. The food cooked by the chefs at the Song Kitchen are of high-end Mediterranean cuisine. We wanted to be super successful so that we could expand our services as we progress further.”

The overall aim, she says, is to “give back” to the programs and services they run as a charitable organisation.

So why the name ‘Song Kitchen’? YWCA NSW had to rebrand as many people thought the ‘Y Hotel’ was a hostel because of the name. “Our staff were constantly being asked crazy questions by passer-by’s and the public in general,” adds Kate good-naturedly.

The hotel was also coming up at the bottom of internet searches as they were in alphabetical order. “We decided that something’s had to change,” Kate adds. Taking on an optimistic approach, YWCA NSW involved the executive team in a name-brainstorming workshop. “They tried to come up with a name that wasn’t only positive to let people to walk away from the hotel feeling joyful,” Kate says.

The risk of starting Song Kitchen was a challenge in itself. “It was the risk of pioneering something like this,” Kate explains. “We didn’t want it to fail. We knew this was clearly a new way of doing things. We had to be aware of the investment that was being put into it. In the end, you really want to make it as successful as you can.”

So, what’s on the menu?: Mediterranean-inspired dishes, a menu that changes with the seasons, and a relaxed and welcoming dining room are the hallmarks of Song Kitchen. Chef Charlotte Gonzales-Poncet combines her French training and heritage with the best Australian produce in a delicious menu of bistro favourites.

Their carefully chosen wine list curated by leading sommelier and wine consultant Sophie Otton is small but exceptional, with a focus on boutique artisanal producers, alternative grape varieties, NSW labels and female winemakers.

Song Kitchen is open for breakfast and coffee seven days a week, for lunch Tuesday to Friday and for dinner Tuesday to Saturday.

Most importantly when you eat at Song Kitchen you are helping to make a difference. All profits fund important projects run by the YWCA NSW to support victims of domestic violence. So it’s good food for a good cause.

To make a donation click here or become a member click here

Why not get your small business to plan your next small business social outing at Song Kitchen or stay in a Song Hotel next time you are in Sydney for business?

NAB: Have been long term supporters of the YWCA for a number of years. NAB not only support YWCA with their banking, but also through sponsorship and staff engagement.

What charity does Song Kitchen support?: 50 women experience domestic violence each day in NSW. The YWCA NSW’s Domestic Violence services and support has expanded significantly over the past six months with two new Domestic Violence Support workers in the Northern Rivers and Metropolitan region. YWCA NSW are concentrating on raising funds to open a domestic violence shelter in Western Sydney and to expand their services to help support more communities across NSW.

YWCA Australia also has two national programs that are delivered in partnership with their Member Associations.

Every Girl is a strengths-based self esteem program for girls aged 9-14 years from disadvantaged communities.

YWCA Encore is a free 8-week program for women who have experienced breast cancer

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