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We Won !!!

LOCAL BUSINESS SUCCESS: Fifth Ave Katoomba Retreat announced as the WINNER of the Rural Hospitality Excellence Award in the 2023 Australian Rural Business Awards

2023 Winner Australian Rural Business Awards

The Australian Rural Business Awards are presented by Australia’s leading online marketplace for rural and regional small businesses Spend With Us ( to celebrate, highlight and recognise the absolute talent that exists out there in rural and regional Australia. Highlighting, in an Australian Rural Business Awards, what small businesses in rural/regional Australia are achieving in business excellence, innovation and sustainability, new business, Australian made and e-commerce. The awards are designed to recognise the strength, resilience and talent of small business owners in rural and regional areas who have, in the last few years alone, gone through droughts, bushfires, mouse plagues, floods, lack of tourism, a global pandemic and rising costs of living.

Silvana Franze, owner of Fifth Ave Katoomba Retreat, says she is excited to be named the winner of the Rural Hospitality Excellence Award. “I was thrilled to be announced the winner of this category! This kind of recognition by a panel of judges gives validity to what I’ve been working on for the past six years. It’s been a labour of love, one that has evolved organically which is nice, because it means it hasn’t been forced. I’ve put in the hard yards but learnt to also go with the flow. This award will give me the confidence to keep on going.”

"In Southern Italian tradition, we offer Italian cooking classes to small groups in a relaxing, homely environment located in Katoomba. Delicious home-grown Italian food, familial connection and stimulating conversation are important values in our culture and the primary focus of these intimate gatherings. Our classes are very engaging and sitting down to a shared meal together is something I don’t take for granted. Social connection is nurtured and encouraged in the classes, promoting positive mental health and emotional well-being. We recognise the benefits of making deep human connections by working collectively in a safe and supportive space and the experience can be positively transformative for participants. I remember individuals from one particular group who were visibly changed by the experience and asked if they could hug ‘Nonna’ afterwards. I find these responses very rewarding and satisfying, which brings me back to the original motivation in pivoting my small business – keeping our heritage and customs alive, to be passed down to others."

Silvana is delighted to be named as a winner and is proud of her achievements, mentioning that she has not done this alone. Her mother and sister have been central to the classes and events. She talks in-depth about the large backyard, full of majestic eucalyptus trees, transformed over the years into a Mediterranean-inspired space by her late father. This has allowed the business to take part in community events such as the Edible Garden Trail and Equinox Tasting Experience, for which they have received very positive feedback. Silvana says the business has kept on evolving, usually by request of her customers. From Italian cooking classes, some participants suggested they come along just to eat. This led to special events being held at the property. Others asked to buy her handmade pasta. From there, she started making other gourmet products, which are now sold in a few of the local stores. It can be challenging to be a successful small business in rural and regional Australia, and community plays an enormous part in that success. Silvana believes that community has played a central role in her business success. "It's a two-way street. You can't have one without the other. It's great to have tourists but the local community's support is vital to long-term growth. Their word of mouth will help grow a small business, keeping our costs down. In turn, we provide goods and services to our local area, that may not be readily available, especially if it is a niche business. The importance of social connections, especially when they happen organically, are longer lasting or more beneficial to both parties. To think we've been able to contribute our part through food and company – I mean, who can ask for more than this?"

Read more at The founders of Spend With Us, Jenn Donovan and Sarah Britz have been overwhelmed by the response to the awards and are so excited to see how many businesses have been involved. There is nothing that gives us greater joy than seeing businesses from the bush succeed and to see their passion and determination shine through. We’re also so thankful to our amazing sponsors who have also been inspired by many of our winners' journeys”, say Donovan and Britz. For more information on the Australian Rural Business Awards please visit

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