We check in with Jacques & Darrell to see how they're going.
When social distancing rules were first introduced one of our first thoughts was with our local hospitality businesses and how were they going to survive?
With so much of what we talk about on HUNTERhunter being about where to eat, drink and encouraging locals (and visitors) to engage with all of the wonderful small businesses that make up our community, it's been heart-breaking to see so many of them struggle to keep their businesses open. However, despite all the changes many hospo businesses are displaying remarkable resilience and adapting in the most unique ways.
So, rather than us talk to you about how the outbreak is really affecting businesses, hear it straight from the source, our local small business owners.
Jacques Deloraine - Owner of Equium Social
When it was announced that hospitality businesses had to close their doors, or offer take-away/delivery services, what was the first thought that ran through your head?
Our team! Our offering is nothing without them. Most of them, if not all, have been with us since day one. They have all given so much more than was needed, or ever expected, to create something as we have. We have had a few hours available as take away trickles in, but every salary has been cut. How does that feel? There aren’t words…it’s fucked.
Equium Social has been an iconic hub in Mayfield since you first opened your doors – do you think you’ll be able to make it out at the other end of all of this?
We will try everything we possibly can. But in all seriousness, we are only 2 years old, and have constantly been reinvesting in it. Our buffer kit is limited.
We are a company who thrive off creating a feeling. We play loud music and employ a unique, character filled team (or did). We purposely set up in such a controversial location to bring an offering of our level to a community who were screaming for it. Or further, a city. How does one simply adapt in a matter of days and squeeze all of this into a take away box? Don’t get me wrong, we will not give up, but the frustration and pain is evident.
"Sunday week, we had our busiest trade since we opened in 2017, a huge feat for the team. One week later I’ve had to stand down every single member of staff… It's absolutely gut-wrenching." - Jacques Deloraine (Equium Social)
How are you guys staying sane?
I am really lucky to have family close, and also in the same industry. My stepfather Garth owns and operates Talulah, so we have been touching base each day. Mainly to just swear, shout and hit things.
Remy and I have always loved good music and the outdoors. Xavier Rudd is at the top of the list this week, and we have also been blasting (loudly) Springsteen, Bob Dylan, Nick Cave, War on Drugs and Kevin Morby to name a few.
Will the government's announcement of the JobKeeper payment, does this potentially mean you can hold on to more of your staff?
Fingers crossed. We have been able to put back on 2 guys this week which is amazing anyway, as deliveries are starting to happen.
What has Equium Social changed to adapt to the new regulations?
Namely we are running the following new offerings. Our website now directly links to our online store, which is how we plan on connecting over the next period of time. It enables contactless payment, real time updates to menu offerings, and plenty of cheeky extras to keep spirits high.
We’re also offering an On Demand Breaky; it’s fast breaky when you need it. Pick up within 15mins or delivery ASAP.
Each weekday, we’ve started offering a ‘ready to collect’ or ‘locally delivered’ lunch fare. Each day we will also be preparing a selection of meals designed to pick-up, re-heat (where needed), and enjoyed with the whole family.
Lastly, our Larder store has a selection of stocks, coffee beans, condiments, slow cooked meats, ready heat meals etc. These items can be added to any lunch or dinner order or picked up in store.
Keep up-to-date with Equium Social
Darrell Stapleton – Owner of Habesha Ethiopian
When news of Coronavirus first hit Aussie news, was the local hospitality industry worried at all?
No, not at all. In December and January Australia seemed so far away from the issue. We then started hearing about cases arriving in Australia, we all then watched the Government fail to screen and test international passengers arriving at airports and cruise terminals, cases increased significantly, we then realised this was going to be bigger than expected and unfortunately it is.
What was the first thought that ran through your head, when changes for the industry had come into effect?
My staff. Like most hospitality businesses, we had a large casual workforce. Across the group, we had approximately 38 people with us, we now have six at three locations and the head office.
We had just assembled and developed the perfect team which were taking the business to the next level, now that’s all gone. The balance of our staff are understandably nervous and a little demotivated. It’s devastating, we’re having sleepless nights and just sick to the stomach.
Can you see Habesha Ethiopian making it out alive at the other end?
That’s the question I ask myself at least half a dozen times a day, unfortunately I still don’t have the answer. All we can do at the moment is try and adapt our business model to this unprecedented and challenging environment.
Small business is still unable to access any Government stimulus grant or other assistance as it continues to fumble around how it is to be finalised, for some reason they don’t understand that every hour counts. It has, and will continue to be, too little too late for many hospitality businesses.
What has Habesha Ethiopian changed to adapt to the new regulations?
We had immediately implemented a free, in-house delivery service and ramped up our social media attempting to reach out to our customers & community. We have also turned the dining room at Habesha in The Junction into a grocery store and bottle shop for our takeaway & delivery customers.
Keep up-to-date with Habesha Ethiopian
There’s so many businesses, if not all, facing the same situtations as these guys above. So, how can we best support our local businesses right now?
“Support hospitality as a whole. We are lucky! We have been fairly busy since we opened and have a small kitty to fall back on, but many don’t, and that harsh reality is closure for good. Hospo just changed forever at the drop of a hat. At the best of times margins are slim. Add in delivery, inflated food prices (which I’m told are close), it no longer exists. We have all had so many great moments being looked after by others in amazing establishments; remember them.” – Jacques (Equium Social)
“Continue to order take away and deliveries and keep up the great social media posts. Our customers are amazing, they have been posting social media pics and comments when their delivery arrives or start eating their takeaway, we would all be closing our doors if it wasn’t for them.” – Darrell (Habesha Ethiopian)
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