Meet The Locals: Pack A Picnic With Lynda Lister
Lynda Lister is the energetic force behind the Surf Coast Picnic Co, known and loved for their focus on only using local food and beverage suppliers – and where that isn’t possible, only produce sourced from small businesses.
I caught up with Lynda to talk about how the business got started during the pandemic, and how the first year of business has been treating her.
Hi Lynda, your business has only been up and running for just over a year now, how did the Surfcoast Picnic Company come to be?
My husband and I have long backgrounds in hospitality and marketing, and we’ve run several pubs and clubs. When COVID hit, we saw a lot of hamper and grazing board businesses popped up across the country.
We sat down one night and plotted out doing something similar as it fits our experience and our love of great food and wine. We landed on making all-inclusive, eco-friendly, BYO-blanket picnic hampers.
But we wanted a key point of difference, and that’s supporting and showcasing small businesses. Nothing we use comes from a supermarket, and most of it is sourced from Geelong, Bellarine and the Surf Coast. What we can’t source locally we either buy from another local business or source from elsewhere in Victoria, or at the very least Australian.
What is behind the drive to support local?
A few things I suppose. One, running our own pubs and clubs means we know how much it means when someone comes into our place and spends their money with us. We know all the little things count.
Also, to me, the locally produced stuff honestly tastes better. Someone has put a lot of care into making sure their product is the best it can be, and it shows.
But it is more than that. We love good food and wine and, when we travel, we want to try new things. Street foods in Asia, local wines when on a road trip, bread from the local bakery. We figured lots of other people would be the same so we started making picnic baskets that we would love to be handed on a day out. We put in a nice selection of dips, chutneys and cheeses, spreads, breads and crackers with local beers, wines or spirits depending on what you choose. We’ve also got options with fresh meats, fruits and veggies all prepared and ready to eat.
A few friends started asking for hampers, which is where you’ll get full sized versions of the sauces, jam and the like. Unlike the picnics, which get delivered fresh for consumption on the day, we can deliver these further up and down the coast.
And I guess it means you get to enjoy trying new things all the time too!
For sure! As I said, we love food and wine ourselves and we’ve found a lot of our suppliers that way, by exploring our own backyard. Our meat supplier, for example, makes the most delicious hams. So when we were looking for a supplier for our meats, he was an obvious choice. We are lucky though, while the Surf Coast has always been known for surfing, it – and the areas further out like Bellarine and Moorabool – have also been evolving into a foodie destination. We have so many breweries and vineyards, cheese and smallgoods producers along our stretch and people are starting to come here for that.
Just researching the market?
With our baskets, people get the convenience of having everything they need for a picnic, but they also get to sample a nice range of what they can find while they are exploring this part of the world.
So how did you come to be in Torquay?
My husband was born and spent his childhood here. We were living in Newport looking at houses, but everything needed renovations and we are not handy people! He kept saying we should be looking here, so I agreed to give it a 12-month trial. That was 12 years ago. It has been wonderful raising our kids here. They can go riding all day and we do not worry, for example. And the commute into work for my husband was about the same. The obvious choice for us was Torquay by the beach.
Have you seen Torquay come together throughout COVID?
Absolutely. People have made sure they support the businesses they frequented before everything changed. There is a Surf Coast Takeaway & Delivery Options page which was set up early on to help everyone cross-promote each other’s businesses and make it easier for local people to support local businesses by ordering meals when they can’t go out. There is an active Insta community too. I was in a shop just the other day and introduced myself and the lady immediately recognised me from the business pages.
I would say if one good thing has come out of COVID, it’s that people have learned to appreciate their local businesses. Businesses have closed so people are seeing if they want their favourite places to still be standing when life goes back to normal, then they need to be actively supporting them however they can.
And I think the way our business is growing really shows the Surf Coast must have some pretty great food and beverages made right here.
That’s so true. I love that you are supporting local businesses. To get a taste of local goodies and support Surf Coast small businesses check out www.surfcoastpicnic.com.au.
Photo credits: Surf Coast Picnic Facebook page