How you can still have a business lunch when working from home

Pubs and bars are rising to the COVID-19 challenge with a raft of innovative measures to keep the revenue flowing.

Let's not beat around the bush; these are dire circumstances for the hospitality industry.

But the most astute operators have shown their mettle by stepping up sanitation and other virus control measures, and quickly adapting their businesses.

Support, support, support

It's absolutely crucial we support their efforts if we want them to see out the crisis.

"I think we're going to see some large scale changes in the way hospitality does business over the next little while," says Sydney publican and restaurateur Jake Smyth, of Mary's Group.

"We're already hearing of people making really large cuts to their overheads, such as negotiating rent reductions with their landlords, with a hope to mitigating the financial stress they are likely to be under.  

"If the government does forced closures, Deliveroo and Uber Eats could be the only source of revenue for some people.

"Once seen as the vultures of the hospitality game, these delivery platforms may now be providing a link to survival."


Getting creative

Mary's will soon offer its vegan menu on the Deliveroo platform, and make delivery available to eastern suburbs residents from its kitchen at the Unicorn Hotel in Paddington.

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"That way we can keep the lights on, even though there might not be anyone sitting in the bar drinking," says Smyth.

"It's going to be tough times ahead and we do need to be doing our best to support our casual and full time staff with work."

Delivery to your home office

While none of us are thrilled at being stuck at home this next few weeks, we have unprecedented food and drink options at our fingertips.

Melbourne's Bar Americano is offering free delivery on its popular 'hometender' range of bottled cocktails.

"The situation is escalating rapidly," says founder Matthew Bax.

"Last weekend was down 30 per cent, Monday 50 per cent, and [most recently] we were down 80 per cent.

"Free delivery is a new initiative to help our customers through these periods of isolation and to give some hours to my team.I suspect it will be our only income stream within a matter of days."

Charcuterie and champagne

Want a cheese platter and a bottle of wine? Handpicked Wines' Sydney cellar door has you covered.

"Our Cellar Door is very important for revenue, so is the customer conversion it creates," says Handpicked Wines' Michael O'Brien-Brown.

"What we're currently trying to do is recreate that cellar door experience at home… our cheese, charcuterie and wine packs are now available with same day delivery to Sydney-siders within a 25 kilometre radius, extended from our usual 10km."

Invest in a better time

Another way to help with cash flow at your favourite watering hole is to purchase a gift voucher you can spend with them at a later date.

Mary's Smyth hopes the community will look out for the hospitality businesses who are doing the right thing by their customers.

"We have implemented mandatory temperature testing of all of our staff, and put tables in between other tables to provide a little more distance between people," he says.

"If a business is taking all the precautions necessary, then it's somewhere that you should be supporting because the dollars in this economy go round and round and round.

"If the dollars are not going into these venues, that means people can't pay rent, they can't go to the corner shop and they can't spend on other services."

Check out our gallery above for a non-exhaustive list of some of the unique offers now available.

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