The last couple of months have truly tested the hospitality industry. The impact of the coronavirus has forced businesses into closure, raised the unemployment rate and sent customers into panic wondering when the next time is they’ll be able to sit down for a pint. Then there is the issue of chef mental health, a matter already on the minds of industry leaders prior to any pandemic. It’s truly a testing time.
But beyond the doom and gloom there’s ample reason for industry professionals to keep their heads held high. Not just because of where things are going, but also what has been accomplished in the face of adversity and despair. From tales of innovation to the resurgence of takeaway, hospitality’s response to COVID-19 falls just short of extraordinary.
So, in honour of this response we’ve found a few reasons to feel good about hospo right now:
1. Hospo Giving back
When lockdown was introduced many venues were forced to close and many workers were laid off or at least lost hours. With this kind of impact, it’d be easy to shut up shop and protect yourself at all costs. But this simply hasn’t been the case, with venues, distributors and industry groups rallying across the country to tend to their respective communities. A good example being Meals for Mates, A new initiative giving 4000 free home-delivered meals to out-of-work hospitality workers across Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane. The community service doesn’t stop there though, with a bunch of restaurants choosing to give back. The Taphouse Darlo offered free meals to hospo staff, and South Indian restaurant Sankalp created meals for international students and locals in need, just to name a couple.
Having the ability to foresee a catastrophe like this is nearly impossible, which leaves little time to prepare for them. The industry’s ability to pivot in this time of crisis has been remarkable. It has been interesting to see how venues have adapted, with venues adopting revised business models to generate income when sit-down wasn’t an option. One popular option is to sell your goods straight to the public, taking on a more retail-focused approach. While others have created hampers and “do-it-at-home” packs so that loyal customers can enjoy an authentic experience from the comforts of their home.
3. The Resurgence of Takeaway
The takeaway market has blown up recently with many venues turning to it as their only source of income during lockdown. This has taken the takeaway game to new heights, with customers blessed with a wealth of new options to enjoy. Comfort foods like burgers, pizza and hot dogs have all found a place among people’s list of popular options. While take-home cocktails and high-end gourmet dishes are now available to order. Even one-hat restaurants are getting in on takeaway’s turnaround.
Delivery apps like Uber Eats and Deliveroo have finally dropped commission prices as well, after growing calls from the industry.
4. Government Support
When the announcement was made about lockdowns many were left uncertain about their employment going forward. Many industry professionals stepped forward and voiced their frustration around the situation, before government stepped in and unveiled first the JobSeeker subsidy wage, and then JobKeeper. Say what you will about the effectiveness of these subsidies, and the issues around some of the criteria, but you can certainly argue that they’ve helped. The financial security of both employees and business owners will be essential for the long recovery of the industry, so these subsidies along with several government grants are a good first step forward.
5. Community Vibe
Finally, on our list, is the general sense of community that has grown from this dark situation. You can feel a unity that stems all the way from the top to the customer. We have seen stories of business owners jumping on scooters to move orders and keep business afloat. We’ve seen customers leaving generous tips anonymously to help out their favourite cafe. We’ve seen cooking shows sprouting up, as the likes of Dan Hong take their talents and recipes to the internet. It’s a real-life case of the old adage “you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone” and people are relearning to appreciate what the hospitality industry has to offer.
There is much more to be grateful of right now, and we hope that you’ve managed some wins along the way. If you’ve got a story to share or something to say, be sure to reach out by messaging us on our Facebook page.