Hospitality owners are having to think and adapt quickly in response to Coronavirus COVID-19 restrictions on trade that are limiting cafes, bars and restaurants to serving takeaway only.
Sales and Marketing Director at Lala Hospitality Group, Jessica Arena told Canberra Weekly the changes to their business have been coming thick and fast.
The ban on dining in forced Lala to close three of their five venues, leaving Bleachers Sports Bar and Amici Deli & Wine Bar open for takeaway and delivery.
Amici is just one of hordes of hospitality venues across Canberra that are adapting to the extensive, rapidly changing restrictions being placed on the industry by transitioning into selling off their excess stock and supplies.
They’ve become a makeshift grocery and liquor store in the midst of the current restrictions, selling everything from toilet paper, bread and milk to their usual fare of wine, cheese, sandwiches and deli goods.
Ms Arena said they started selling items like coveted toilet paper and dry pasta since their bulk stock isn’t required given they can’t accept dine-in customers.
“No one is making money at the moment, and that’s obvious, but if selling a few bottles of wine every day can keep our chef employed, he said to me yesterday ‘I didn’t think I’d be going to culinary school and coming out selling toilet paper’ … it’s survival mode.
“We’ve had to make some pretty big transitions here just in terms of bringing down all our stock so we can clear it out and get some revenue coming through.
“They can online order, we’ve set up a drive-through out the back so you can drive in, call the number, and we’ll run it all out to your boot if you need to be completely contact-free,” she said.
Ms Arena said Lala have been able to retain just six staff from their five venues. The remainder were stood down earlier this week.
“We’re basically doing what we can to keep those people on, and hoping we can come out the other side with venues still standing for when everyone can go back out again.
“We’re going to lose a lot of really good hospitality venues, some won’t make it through and it’s going to be really sad for our culture.
“The key is that people have to support small Canberra businesses where they can,” she said.
To assist hospitality venues in adapting, the ACT Government announced yesterday they’ve received more than 100 applications for a free three-month commercial liquor permit, which allows them to sell takeaway alcohol.