We chatted with Suzie Vincent to see how one of Newcastle's most awarded restaurants has changed things up.
If you had have told me at the beginning of 2020 that by March I would be able to sit at home and have one of Newcastle's most awarded restaurants deliver a three-course meal to my door, I would have said you were a crazy person, and yet, here I am in April checking out subo's newly launched home delivery and pick up menu.
With closing the restaurant not being an option for owner Suzie Vincent and the team at Subo, they have pulled together an interim solution that would not only allow subo to continue operating, but provide a little bit of normalcy into the lives of the staff.
Interested to see how the restaurant experience translates at home we chatted with Suzie over the phone to get the rundown and, gave the difficult task of experiencing 'subo at your home' to our photographer Sophie Tyler.
Firstly Suzie, how are you and the team at subo going?
Overall I think we consider ourselves to be lucky in that we have something to do, we have a place that we can come to and all feel engaged. There has been quite a lot of change in the way we operate, which is challenging, but we’re taking it all in our in stride.
Have you been able to retain most of your staff?
We’ve only had to let go of one staff member, out of 13. We have actually hired people, old employees who have found themselves out of work and we’ve been able to give them a few shifts assisting with our operations.
The hospitality industry has been turned upside down, every week a new challenge seems to have been thrown at you, can you tell us currently how you are managing to operate as a business?
We’ve had to completely change our business model to now only offer home delivery and pick up options. We have also created a few menu add-ons like the freshly shucked oysters and cheese plates so if you have something to celebrate you can make a big deal dinner happen. We are also offering a selection of minimal intervention wine from our list that can be ordered through the website and delivered to your door with your meal by one of our staff.
Given the way in which your food is prepared and cooked is integral to the subo experience how have you managed to maintain this with 'Subo at your home'?
We've had to adapt our food offering, but we are trying our best to retain our hatted level of food, if we don’t then at the end of the day we don’t have a unique offering. The way we've been able to do this is by pre-preparing each of the courses so they are either ready to eat or just require heating. Within the meal box that we deliver instructions are included so you can't go wrong.
How has the new-look subo been received so far?
The response has been so positive and everyone has been so supportive. Some of this has come from our regulars but we’ve also been receiving orders from people I’ve never seen before which is great. For us now it’s about concentrating on making the system work better and doing more volume.
Given the isolation restrictions could be in place for some time is your current way of operating something you can maintain for an extended period of time?
Yes. I didn’t want to make a plan that was just going to work for a couple of weeks, we’ve invested a small amount of capital to make this happen as well as buying different stock and that’s been necessary as far as I am concerned, we’re taking a calculated risk, maybe my calculations are wrong but I need to be sure I’ve done everything I could to make this work.
We’ve also had to make some changes to the way we operate in the kitchen, we’ve had to split ourselves into two teams, and we’ve had to adjust the kitchen so there are only ever two staff in their at any one time. We’ve got staff delivering the meal boxes, we’re making it work!
As soon as we have our grasp on our new operations we will be making some changes to the menu, which should take place in the coming weeks.
Has there ever been a thought to stop operating, or hibernate the business?
No way! No stopping, that’s not how you fight, that’s not how I see it anyway. I am not going down without a fight.
Has the announcement of the Jobkeeper payment provided any relief for your business?
I am taking a wait and see kind of attitude to these announcements, with each of them come a different set of criteria.
You’re a mum of two young children (2 & 4) have you been doing anything to keep yourself mentally and physically strong over the last few weeks?
Argh, No! I’ve taken up smoking, which I don’t advocate, but I am completely at peace with this.
Beau, my husband, and I have decided to take the kids out of daycare and he is now looking after them full time, so he is getting his head around that. We’re doing a few things to keep a bit of normalcy, like preparing the lunch boxes every morning so they can eat when they’re hungry, which makes life a little easier.
In regards to work I have made some adjustments to my hours of work, quantity is the same, timing is different, and we’ve split our team in two which provides me with a bit of relief.
I did drink a smoothie this morning [Suzie laughs], but no yoga or mediation for me yet – just heads down
How to get subo Delivered or Picked-Up
Providing high quality, delicious and interesting meals available for pickup or home delivery. Our menus are ever-evolving, championing Australian producers and focused on locality and seasonality. A three-course menu requiring basic cooking skills is now available.
Delivery Zones for Subo at Home:
2287, 2289, 2290, 2291, 2292, 2293, 2294, 2295, 2296, 2297, 2298, 2299, 2300, 2302, 2303, 2305, 2308
Order Online Here
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