Just Sweets, 26 Upton St, Altona. Phone: 9315 0553
You could go to the Just Sweets website to order their super rocky road, gingerbread houses and more online.
But to a large and loving degree, that would be missing the point.
Watching Enzo Amato preside over the 9am mummy rush hour for coffees and chats, in which he seemingly knows the names of each and every customer, it’s clear that this is a hands-on, community-based business full of passion and enthusiasm.
Like his wife and business partner, Maria, Enzo is Italian-born but was raised in Switzerland before coming to Australia.
His family background is very much of the shoemaker tradition, but here he found himself in the food industry, specialising in fruit and vegetables.
But he’s always had a sweet tooth, and eventually friends started suggesting that if produced his famed rocky road in salable quantities it would be a big hit.
He was very skeptical, but gave it a go – and after that first, and successful, outing at a Healesville market, they haven’t looked back.
Just Sweet sells a variety of sweet treats and candy from outside sources, but the prides and joys are the likes of the rocky road – 17 varieties! – and the gingerbread houses.
Nougat and individual chocolates are also made in-house.
I ask Enzo about the history of rock road.
He reckons it has its roots in the Great depression as a sort-of “poor man’s food”.
Back home and online, I find some unsubstantiated information along those lines.
Yet an equally unverified entry on Wikipedia would have it that rocky road is very much a product of Australia’s 1850’s goldfields.
Just Sweets has been running for about three years at its Altona location, an old corner store that’s not actually on a corner, but is right across the road from Altona Primary School.
I suggest that such intimate proximity of a sugary shop and a school must surely be the principal’s worst nightmare.
Enzo laughs, saying Just Sweets and the school have a beaut relationship that stays on the right side of healthy eating habits.
Just Sweets even provides the supplied school lunches, including sandwiches and the like.
Enzo and Maria never envisaged their enterprise becoming a coffee stop and community hub, but after watching the business at work, their accountant advised to make precisely that move.
Yet the coffee machine has seen Just Sweets even more firmly embedded in the neighbourhood.