‘We’re still open’: Canberra businesses adapt


Canberra’s hospitality industry is adapting rapidly to our changing world, implementing new strategies to stay afloat during these uncertain times.

Wildflour café is still open for business, serving takeaway coffee, hot foods, pastries, sweet treats and breads from their Fyshwick shopfront. Photos: Kerrie Brewer.

With new Coronavirus (COVID-19) rules forcing the closure of bars, clubs and restaurants, allowing them to serve takeaway only, many cafés and restaurants are now offering takeaway to continue to keep Canberrans fed and watered.

How do you know which of your favourite foodie spots are still in the swing of things? Websites have popped up with all the info you need – what’s open, what’s being served and how you can get it.

Creative studio ED Creative has launched an online directory, Feed Feed, with up-to-date information on who is open and how they’re operating. The ED Creative team said the site was created to cut through the uncertainty and provide people with clear information so they can support their regular haunts.

“It’s not hard to imagine how this uncertainty could deter people ordering from businesses who desperately need to maintain some income. That’s why we created an easy location for Canberrans to find out about their favourite or local restaurants and cafes.

“We’ve had an overwhelmingly positive response from the community and, much like everyone under current circumstances, we’re reacting quickly to adapt the site to fit everyone’s needs.”

Business can register for free to have their details displayed on the Feed Feed site.

Similarly, CBR is Still Open is listing food outlets by region, with the option for businesses to submit their details for free, with a description of their offerings.

Chairs up: restaurants and cafes have turned to takeaway to keep business going.

Shopping centres, too, are updating their practices: Canberra Centre general manager Gary Stewart said in an email update to the community that the centre remained open and trading, with many food outlets electing to provide takeaway and/or delivery options.

“In accordance with the Australian Government directive issued on 22 March 2020, we have temporarily closed gyms, cinemas, entertainment venues, kids’ play areas and seating zones for our restaurants, cafés and food court,” the email reads.

Across town in Fyshwick, vintage and antique emporium Dirty Janes opened its doors for the first time this morning (25 March), with owner Jane Crowley determined to support the store’s stallholders for as long as possible. The in-house café, Billy T’s, is serving takeaway only.

“This virus, it has the potential to really crush our spirit,” she said.

“And we can’t let that happen, and I’m not going out there to flaunt with danger or anything like that, but I’m looking at these 90 stallholders, who are all independent businesses in here, and just going ‘they have worked so hard for this; they’ve got to be given a chance to earn an income’.”

She said the entire Dirty Janes team were “desperately trying to adhere to what the Government says, where all the staff have been briefed on cleaning everything and keeping social distancing”.

“We’ve got a security guard coming for the [opening] weekend,” she said. “It goes against my natural instinct; I want people to come, but now I want only a certain percentage to come and the rest to stay at home.”

canberra hospitality
Billy T’s at the newly opened Dirty Janes in Fyshwick is serving takeaway only.