As we start to see the light at the end of the coronavirus restrictions tunnel – at least in the ACT – restaurants and cafés are looking to the future as they reopen and attempt to navigate ever-changing requirements.
One Canberra restaurant has taken this time to rethink their business model and adapt, and not just to problems thrown up by COVID-19.
Owner and chef at Otis Dining Hall in Kingston, Damian Brabender, says his team are taking the opportunity to “not just address the problems we’re facing now but the problems the industry as a whole has always faced”: Issues such as ‘no show’ bookings, staffing level problems and menus that are ‘too vast’.
Damian says Otis has pivoted from “casual fine dining” to an “event space”, hosting chef’s table events that are a “fun and light-hearted interactive experience”.
He says the format is proving so popular – June’s events sold out in just a few days – it may become permanent.
“We’re actually considering not going back to the normal format … we’re considering that our ‘new normal’ may be these chef’s table events.”
“The way that we’re looking at it, with restrictions of numbers, if we can only have that many people, let’s give them the absolute best that we can,” Damian says.
“Every sip, every taste, every bite, every part of the meal is the best that this region has to offer… and some really bad dad jokes halfway through.”
A slice of Otis at home
Damian says he is aware that people are opting to eat at home more and more, and Otis now offers prepared meals for diners to take home and “finish off” the cooking themselves with detailed, step-by-step instructions.
“We don’t want to reinvent people eating at home, we want to reinvent people cooking at home,” he says.
“It [is] award-winning food that people can do the finishing touches on at home. We just refuse to go around and do the dishes when you’re done with it!”
The end-goal for Otis is to become “less of a restaurant, more of a culinary hub”: The team are looking to launch their chef’s pantry range soon, with Otis specialties to be available to buy and use at home in your own creations.
And if preparing your own fine dining meal sounds exhausting, you can also get Otis’ cocktail range available for takeaway, too; make sure you try the black truffle martini – ‘tis the season after all!
Tickets are now available for the July chef’s table events via the otisdininghall.com.au
For more news stories: