As pandemic news develops at a dizzying pace in these unprecedented times, so too must businesses adapt and innovate. Preparing for what might be an extended period of at best, social distancing and and at worst extended quarantine requires creative thinking, especially for restaurants.
We may not be eating out much for a while, but we still have to eat. I, for one will be putting this time to good use, growing veggies and herbs and honing those cooking skills. More to come soon on how you can also learn French cookery techniques from a pro. For free!
Restaurant and Catering Industry Association CEO Wes Lambert this week, called on landlords across Australia to offer rent abatements to restaurants, cafes and catering companies to help them stay open during the coronavirus pandemic.
“We are calling on landlords, wherever possible, to partner with our industry to keep businesses making coffees, cooking meals and providing the world class hospitality they can by providing rent abatements to get businesses through these uncertain times”… A closed business is a closed business and this is the worst-case scenario for everyone across the hospitality sector.”
And now for some good news…
Dani Valent is a well-known Australian food writer, cook and expert in all things food. She started a change.org petition to urge UberEats and Deliveroo to reduce commission charges. Dani released this statement a little earlier today (Thursday):
With over 6,000 signatures the petition still needs your support. To sign: http://chng.it/cpmhJnWMp6
Take-away hasn’t been part of the business model for many restaurants – until now
The reality of ‘what might happen’ has already happened in just a few days. (Remember last weekend? It seems like weeks ago). Chefs and restaurants are testing what dishes travel well, take-away options and easy payments. Some are trying Facebook groups to find customers too.
Here are just some of the businesses we’ve heard about that have quickly pivoted.
Ruby Lane Ethical Eatery
Ruby Lane is committed to good, wholesome food. Northern Beaches’ locals are particularly proud of this family operated cafe. They are developing a range of chicken broth soups for sale and making extra beef bone broth jars for retail sales to keep their regular patron’s immune systems in top shape.
They’ve removed several tables and have invested in higher staff costs to increase hygiene measures especially after each shift to ensure thorough cleaning of all menus, salt, pepper, sugar etc., They’ve also gone cashless at both locations – Manly and Mona Vale have also reduced trading hours.
Ruby Lane has redesigned their menu to include more immune boosting items. Think: Marrowed Mushrooms, Chicken Broth Soup, Slow Cooked Lamb Ragout in Beef broth and Immune lattes. Many of these are available as take home meals or through Deliveroo and Door Dash. https://rubylane.com.au
One of Brisbane’s favourite Italian restaurants, is taking the COVID-19 crisis head-on by developing a range of take-home pasta kits from just $10.
Bucci is offering pick-up at a safe 1.5m distance or $5 delivery (10 kilometre radius) for generous serves of menu favourites which can be refrigerated for up to five days or frozen for up to a month. Options go up everyday at midday – maybe a duck, porcini and red wine ragu with house made spinach fusilli ($15) or a house made penne Arrabbiata with smoked, red chilli for only $10. All the details @buccibrisbane on Instagram stories or @BucciRestaurant&Bar on Facebook.
The new and oh, so French, Bar Margaux on Lonsdale St, is offering a range of French family-style meals, prepared fresh and sealed for Melbournians to stock up and cook at their convenience at home. The ‘A la Maison’ menu will likely be available as next week, and includes classic dishes such as Soupe à l’Oignon and Beef Bourguignon. Delivery will be across metro Melbourne.
The Everleigh Bottling Co
Melbourne’s beloved bar – The Everleigh, is introducing a range of hampers to liven up ‘Happy Hour at Home’, featuring signature single-serve bottled classic cocktails (Martini, Negroni, Manhattan, Old Fashioned), glassware, a copy of A Spot At The Bar, (recipe book and more, written by Michael and Zara Madrusan) and venue gift vouchers.
The Quarantini or the cocktail formerly known as the Everleigh Martini will still be available to create the Everleigh experience at home with all the accoutrements including garnish and crystal clear block ice from Navy Strength Ice Co.
Harvest Newrybar and Harvest Deli, Byron Bay
Harvest Deli is offering vegetable-box subscriptions and bulk pantry essentials, and take-home salads, roast vegetables and roast chicken from the bakery’s wood-fired oven on Fridays. Call (02) 9987 2644 For more information: instagram.com/harvestnewrybar
Editor’s note: I hope their sensational pastries are also on the menu.
This legendary Gold Coast restaurant took the difficult decision to close last week. For now, you can enjoy their superstar dishes by pick-up. (Delivery is coming soon). Cooked each morning by Labart’s team of chefs, the rotating selection of dishes will be made from the same locally sourced, seasonal produce Restaurant Labart is known for.
This Saturday’s dinner? Labart’s take on a French classic. Chicken marinated for 24 hours in red wine, bay leaf and thyme. Pancetta, button mushroom, pine mushroom, heirloom tomato. With the all-important side of garlic and thyme mashed potato. Head to the website to order by 5pm to reserve date night at home.
The Cooks Co-op
Martin Boetz is the backbone of the Cooks Co-op. In 2013, he established ‘The Farm’. His vision means chefs have influence and control over their produce from before-seedling right through to the dining experience. The Cooks Co-Op focuses on sustainable farming, the distribution and promotion of quality chef grade produce and helps to educate Sydney chefs on how to work with high quality seasonal produce.
Cooks Co-op is currently offering a $35.00 (feeds 2-4) take away meal option through online pre-order to pick up a curry, rice and relish at the Shed. It’s been so successful that they’ve already sold out Saturday’s menu. Keep a look out on their Facebook and Instagram for upcoming menus.
And in New York…
Chef José Andrés who is well-known for his unending generosity has transformed eight of his restaurants in New York and Washington, DC, into gourmet soup kitchens for those struggling financially in the midst of the Covid-19 crisis.
The take-out only meals cost $7 for those who can afford it, with *volunteers briefed to be flexible with patrons who may be out of work or finding it hard to make ends meet. There’s also an option to donate a meal to someone else who might need it.
*The make-shift ‘soup kitchens’ are staffed by volunteers as the philanthropic chef has given all his staff two weeks paid leave.
We all can help small business and our brothers and sisters in hospitality. Many restaurants/cafes/eateries are working around the clock to ensure their customer’s safety while dining in. Countless food businesses are now offering take-away, delivery and gift vouchers. Some are even selling t-shirts and tote bags perfect for braving the hordes at your local Woolies. Whatever you do, keep smiling, keep eating well and don’t forget #savehospo.