Rathdowne Village business heroes celebrated in short new film


Five of Carlton North’s most iconic small businesses have come together in a short new film set in their community, showcasing their unique stories and offerings.

Titled Rathdowne Village, the film was created by Australian fintech reimagining business Zeller as part of a new series celebrating Australia’s most iconic small business communities.

The film premiered online on September 21 and peels back the layers of Rathdowne Village’s history, through the stories of businesses that paint a picture “not just of work, but of family, community and loyalty”.

Zeller’s growth director Joshua McNicol said, "in creating this short film, we’ve found an area where business is not just transactional, but there’s a deep care for the community they serve”.

“We’ve always been big believers in sharing our merchant's stories and understanding the personalities behind the businesses that use Zeller”.



Known for its picturesque shopping village, Rathdowne Village established itself more than 150 years ago with strong Jewish roots that has evolved into an Italo-Australian community. The business community continues to thrive, boasting one of the lowest business turnover rates in Melbourne.

Mr McNicol said the film took two months to create, adding “we discovered a strong sense of community which was quite unique”.

He said it was an opportunity to “share their stories and demonstrate how family and community can intersect to create opportunities for businesses to thrive”.


Among those featured in the film is Fledgling Espresso, a café owned and operated by young entrepreneur Connor Cunliffe, and his mother Vanessa Cunliffe.

Mr Cunliffe said the support for local businesses was stronger in Rathdowne Village because the community was amazing.

“The relationships we have with our neighbours and the support we receive from our local customers are the reasons why we can be so successful,” Mr Cunliffe said.


When you're working alongside family in such a close-knit community, it pushes us to do our best every day.


Also sharing their story is Love it Longer, an intergenerational fashion business co-owned and operated by sisters Giulia Ferrari and Mattia Hunter Ferne, and their mother Armanda Hunter.

Other community heroes celebrated in the film include the Rathdowne Village Delicatessen, operated by co-owners Frank Siliato and Larry Dichiera, as well as Biscotteria, a Sicilian Pasticceria operated by Claudine Costanzo of the famous Footscray Cavallaro family.

Zeller also explored the story behind La Tonada, a Latin fusion restaurant, which opened in 2019 by siblings Naida and Naid Asconio who immigrated from Colombia.    

Smelling history

Smelling history

November 29th, 2023 - Sylvia Black
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