We are experiencing such times that no one could have imagined in their wildest of dreams. There are new norms to follow, as we are maintaining distance from our fellow humans, due to the fear of this invisible deadly virus as anyone can be the carrier.
Before anyone could have grasped anything, everything seems to have changed and is expected to remain the same until some cure or vaccination is developed. Mask wearing people and less crowd is a common scene now. With restrictions easing out in parts of Australia, people seem to have again started to enjoy their freedom.
Cafes like several other businesses have been severely impacted due to coronavirus outbreak, now deemed as the Great Virus Crisis (GVC). The new norms of social distancing and take away cultures have entirely changed the restaurant and cafes business.
Cafes' Innovative Ideas to Survive the Unprecedented Time
The hospitality industry is amongst the worst-hit sectors. It thrives on serving people, creating ambiences, and giving customers a comfortable and cosy environment where they can come with family and friends to spend some quality times.
However, with virus-related restrictions on cafés to provide only takeaways or practice social distancing, there is hardly any space for creativity and creating an environment for customers. Apart from the government guidelines, there is dwindling demand from the customers as well.
Now, the cafes are coming up with innovative ideas to survive the crisis, and the businesses are trying to operate in the still-thriving markets of essential items.
When cafes could only provide takeaway and home deliveries, Charlie & Franks Café in North Sydney came up with an innovative idea of selling the remaining stock as groceries. The Aussie cafes are not only coming up with such ideas but also experiencing some success.
Initially, the cafe tried selling coffee beans, rice, flour, canned goods, and alcohol to the people who used to come to get food or coffee. The cafe is planning to continue selling groceries even once it will get permission to reopen.
Working with both the wholesalers and retail shops around the country, Ona Coffee's sales were hit massively due to lockdown. It also got an alternative way to survive through the unprecedented times when their milk provider Riverina Fresh offered to sell milk and fresh dairy products out of Ona Coffee's stores.
According to Riverina Fresh CEO, Rob Collier, his company is almost a century old, and entirely Australian owned dairy entity that has experience of navigating through tough times. For the past three years, the company supported its farmers through extreme drought in the Riverina.
Riverina Fresh has been a part of the speciality coffee industry for almost a decade. The challenges are unprecedented, and while there is a long way to go, it is uplifting to see the industry coming together to support their staff, producers, partners, and customers.
Restaurants, cafes not so excited by 3-step economic recovery plan
As per the Federal Government's 3-step economic recovery plan, in step one, small restaurants and cafes can reopen with 10 patrons at a time. The second step will allow a gathering of 20, and in the third step, 100 people gathering will be allowed.
It seems that the Australian Hotels Association (AHA) is not excited about the plan, highlighting the announced recovery plan as inconsistent with social distancing rules. According to the association, going by this plan means many eateries will have to wait until phase three, and during the period, these businesses might get shut down permanently.
Local governments are also doing their bits to support the businesses by increasing payments for takeaway, reducing restaurant inspection fees, and refunding and reducing liquor licensing fees.
The COVID-19 crisis has shattered the hospitality industry and since its onset, restaurant, cafes and bar owners are trying to search new ways to keep their brands relevant in the market, and at the same time, keep going during this ruthless crisis.
Business owners are trying new ways like offering new takeaway menus, cook-at-home meal packs, bakery offerings, and even merchandise. Shockingly, Attica, which is an acclaimed restaurant in Melbourne, is getting orders for layer cakes and even T-shirts.
Though businesses are doing everything possible to sail through the uncertain and gloomy times, restaurant and cafe owners do not see the three-step road to recovery as something exciting and promising for the sector.
Restaurants, cafes open doors for first phase of recovery plan
It was not only difficult for the businesses but also for people who waited long to go to the eateries and enjoy their favourite food. It was evident when the restaurants and cafes opened with strict guidelines for the first phase, as hundreds of Australians gathered at their favourite beaches and cafes. In Government's bid to restart the economy and put life back to normal, churches and exercise groups were also allowed to operate again.
From March 23, cafes, bars, and restaurants were only allowed to offer takeaway services to curb the spread of the crazy virus. Now, when Australia got some success in controlling the spread of coronavirus, the Federal Government has allowed states to ease restrictions within their timeline.
However, with ease also comes warning, as highlighted by NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian, who has stated that if the infection increases, more stringent restrictions can come back again.
The first state that allowed the indoor dining with 10 people is New South Wales with other states expected to follow soon. South Australia cafes and restaurants are serving 10 people in an outdoor dining setting.
People also waited in lines braving the cold to get seats in cafes. Punters were seen waiting to get inside the cafes. However, business owners were not that excited with the level of ease.
More people to dine inside eateries soon, Hinted Premier
It seems that now restaurant and cafe owners need not wait for too long to start their businesses with more power. Gladys Berejiklian has hinted further ease of social distancing restrictions across New South Wales that will allow more people to dine inside cafes, pubs, and restaurants.
The premier also stated that the Government is in talks with the industry on increasing patronage in cafes and restaurants from June onwards.
Government is easing restrictions for economic recovery and making businesses again stand on their own; however, they are also doing the risk analysis of the entire situation. Any ease only depends on a smaller number of cases. Hence, the cloud of uncertainty is still there for all be it government, businesses, and people. Only time will tell how long the virus will forcefully reshape the sectors, or will it end soon with the most awaited medical breakthrough.