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Willoughby Living

Congratulations Willoughby Fresh on Your 20 Year Anniversary!!!

November 13, 2021

Everyone’s favourite fresh food provider, Willoughby Fresh, has been serving the local community in its current location on Penshurst St for two decades!

Family-run Willoughby Fresh often feels like a second home for many in the local area, with queues out the door at school pick-up time and Nonna serving up fresh pasta and hugs towards the back. It’s owned by husband and wife, Ray and Caroline Scala, who took over the shop in November, 2001 – 20 years ago this month.

It’s an amazing milestone for a small business, and a true testament to the service they provide for the local area. Sophie Fryer, Caroline and Ray’s daughter, who often helps out in the store, says Willoughby has been a wonderful place to run a fresh food store – and it’s all down to the people who live here.

“The locals are great,” she says. “They’re very supportive and friendly. We are also surrounded by other good businesses and the local schools which provides a great diverse demographic.”

The location is certainly handy for the WPS school crowd, and history buffs and long-time locals may already know that the site has been a fruit and veg shop for 70 years! The Scala family’s fruit and veg history also goes way back with their previous store, called Top Score, in Westfield Chatswood, which they ran for 15 years prior to taking over the current premises in Willoughby.

The Scala family are locals as well, living in Willoughby (just around the corner from the store). And in case you’re still trying to work out the family tree – there’s Nonna (Maria), who is mum to Ray and Charles, then Sophie, Chiara and Mario, the three children of Ray and Caroline, who have grown up helping out in the store and still “make guest appearances” from time to time according to Sophie.

One of the most popular items in the store is without a doubt Nonna’s freshly cooked dishes including pastas, meatballs, schnitzel, vegetables (how does she make kale taste so good?), soup and salads.

“She started cooking minestrone soup one day, and it just took off from there,” says Sophie. “Soon enough we had to renovate the shop to put in a commercial kitchen along with employing a team to assist her!”

As for the most popular of Nonna’s meals? It’s no contest, says Sophie, “it’s definitely the spaghetti bolognese!”

While the Scala’s won’t give up the secret to Nonna’s pasta sauce, they are happy to share the secret of their long-term small business success.

“People are always surprised when they come in at our amazing fresh produce, large range of products in store and our home cooked Italian meals,” says Sophie.

“We have learned to adapt over the years – listening to our customers and being engaged in the community is key. We try to go above and beyond for our customers whether it’s getting a particular product in or giving them a hand out to their car. So many of our customers are our friends and you just don’t get that everywhere!”

Ray and Nonna on ”Sauce Day”

 

Get to Know the Scala Family:

Caroline Scala

Where were you born? Wentworthville

How long have you worked at Willoughby Fresh? 20 years

What do you think has made it such a success in the community? Adapting over the years and listening to our customers.

Favourite Nonna dish? Eggplant Parmigiana

What’s it like working so closely with the family? It has its pros and cons, mostly pros.

Who would you award the Best Employee medal to? Charles , because he works so hard to keep the shop looking well presented.

 

Ray Scala

Where were you born? Sydney

How long have you worked at Willoughby Fresh? 20 years

What do you think has made it such a success in the community? We’re locals too, we live in the area and have grown our family in the area for 30 years.

Favourite Nonna dish? Vegetarian Penne, lots of parmesan cheese!

What’s it like working so closely with the family? Fantastic, so many experiences with my family I wouldn’t have been able to have if I worked elsewhere. It has bought the family together with the children working there over the years. It has bought us all together.

Who would you award the Best Employee medal to? Charles, for his knowledge in the industry and his experience

 

Charles Scala

Charles with Fan, Tomomi and Nonna

Where were you born? Sydney

How long have you worked at Willoughby Fresh?  8 years

What do you think has made it such a success in the community? Nonnas kitchen and fresh produce

Favourite Nonna dish? Spaghetti Bolagnaise – it’s a crowd favourite.

What’s it like working so closely with the family? Good. It’s fantastic to work with your family.

Who would you award the Best Employee medal to? Tom for all his hard work

 


Nonna – Maria 

Where were you born? Calabria, Italy

How long have you worked at Willoughby Fresh? 20 years

What do you think has made it such a success in the community? The kindness the respect and love of people.

Favourite Nonna dish? Italian Sausage & Pasta

What’s it like working so closely with the family? I love it, my priority is my children. I look forward to going every morning.

Who would you award the Best Employee medal to? Caroline, respectable, kind, 33 years in the family been a joy.


Sophie Fryer

Where were you born? Darlinghurst, Sydney

How long have you worked at Willoughby Fresh? On and off 15 years

What do you think has made it such a success in the community? The ability to form close relationships with the community along with offering a point of difference!

Favourite Nonna dish? Arrabiatta Pasta, can’t go past a bit of heat!!

What’s it like working so closely with the family? We are a very tight knit family because of it.

Who would you award the Best Employee medal to? Tough to pick. Everyone is very hard working, but I will choose Dad (Ray), for his work ethic which has been passed on to my siblings and I.

 

Willoughby Fresh

67 Penshurst St, Willoughby

W: https://www.willoughbyfresh.com/

F: https://www.facebook.com/willoughbyfresh

 

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