Worksmith opened its doors two weeks ago at 450 Smith Street, in the eclectic and culturally rich suburb of Collingwood.
The venue serves as a shared space dedicated to testing new ideas, working on projects, and collaborating with others to strengthen the hospitality industry and foster a sense of community amongst its members.
It comes complete with a commercial kitchen, in-house bar, lounge, event space and photography room, and is the perfect environment for distributors, restaurant owners, point of sale operators, hospitality marketers and even graphic designers.
Worksmith co-founder, Michael Bascetta, explained that the idea was inspired by his desire to create a tight-knit community around the demanding and, at times, isolating world of hospitality.
“I’ve worked in Melbourne for about six years now, and before that, London, and out in the Yarra Valley, and I never felt like part of the greater community within the industry,” he said.
“I worked really long hours, as we do in hospitality, then went home and repeated it the next day without having much contact with people in the industry.”
Since opening his Johnston Street venue Bar Liberty and launching Grow Assembly, a series of food and wine talks from some of the most forward-thinking minds in the industry, Mr Bascetta has discovered an entire community that he was unaware existed.
To him, Worksmith is the embodiment of that sense of collectiveness, collaboration and mentorship that he considers vital to the industry’s growth.
The idea for Worksmith came to Mr Bascetta around a year ago, but it wasn’t until he and his high-school friend, property developer Roscoe Power, saw the space in Collingwood that it came to fruition.
“It was perfect for what we wanted to do in terms of location and size,” he said.
“This area has become the hub of innovation within hospitality over the past five years, and we wanted to be a part of that.”
Having come a long way since making coffee together in a little bakery in Emerald, Mr Bascetta and Mr Power had always planned on working together again in some way, and that dream has now come true with the co-founding of Worksmith.
“It was always a bit of a joke that we’d open a cafe one day, but our careers grew into separate industries,” Mr Bascetta said.
“It’s great that we’ve been able to come together on something that we’re both passionate about.”
This isn’t the only pleasant surprise that Mr Bascetta has stumbled across throughout his career, which itself began by chance.
Born into an Italian family, with a father from Syracuse and maternal grandparents from Licodia Eubea - both in Sicily - hospitality is in his blood.
Growing up in Gembrook, fondly referred to as “Little Licodia” due to its strong migrant community, Mr Bascetta spent his early days in the kitchen cooking with his nonna.
From a young age, he dreamt of turning his passion for food into a career and becoming a chef.
“Somehow, I ended up on the other side of the path and I’m glad I did...I think I’m definitely more suited to it,” he laughed.
Having become a father just a week before Worksmith’s opening, Mr Bascetta can’t wait to share his family’s traditions of passata and sausage making, along with all of the recipes passed down the generations, with his new daughter.
“My heritage is a really big part of my life and I really value it,” he said.
But for now, his focus is on enjoying the start of two new chapters: that of fatherhood and that of Worksmith.
Moving forward, Mr Bascetta hopes this venture will prove to be the next big thing in the food and beverage industry, and he has his sights set on expanding and responding to the demand for similar spaces in Sydney, New York and London.
With the ambition and eagerness required of a successful game-changer, Mr Bascetta concluded:
“It’s going to be a big 2018!”