Councillor vows to increase business support after his restaurant closes

Councillor vows to increase business support after his restaurant closes
Brendan Rees

City of Melbourne councillor Jason Chang has pledged to support business owners and give them a voice during difficult times, after his own Japanese restaurant business went into liquidation.

Cr Chang, co-founder of Calia Australia, said he was devastated to close his business venues at the CBD’s Emporium and Chadstone in early January after facing financial difficulties.

In a statement, he said he dedicated “every effort to keep Calia alive, investing not just money but my soul into it”.

“My gratitude knows no bounds for those who stood with us through thick and thin … your support over the years has been my solace in these trying times,” he said.

But Cr Chang said as a councillor he wouldn’t allow his setback to dampen his passion for helping other business owners.

“The feelings and sentiments of business owners is something I would push even more this year because I’ve been through it in very public way,” he said.


“I have not heard a single hospitality owner so far that I know, except for the big groups, who said they are doing well.”


He said many, including himself, faced pressures of rising borrowing costs and rents, COVID-related debts, inflation leading to higher wages, operating costs and more.

Cr Chang said he would advocate for much needed-support and relief from the state government as well as increase the efforts from the council to help struggling business owners. •

“I want traders and business owners to know you are not alone – we are going through these tough times together so don’t be afraid to ask for help,” he said.

“We’re not corporations, we are just Mum and Dad owners, individuals who have worked hard in their lives, saved money, started a business, and most have lost it all.”

Through his advocacy, Cr Chang hoped the CBD would return to a thriving landscape post-pandemic.

“Absolutely give it go and don’t be scared, ask, reach out,” he said of those thinking about opening a business in the city.

“I know the stress behind it, but you have support, reach out to me, reach out to others.”

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February 20th, 2024 - Julie Bevan
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