Hospitality co-op finds strength in numbers

Book a table at a local restaurant to show your support to hospitality businesses and workers as they innovate and evolve following a challenging 2020.

In September, the City of Melbourne and the Victorian Government announced a landmark $100 million Melbourne City Recovery Fund to reactivate the central city as businesses progressed towards a COVID-safe reopening.

One of the grant recipients was South Wharf restaurant BangPop, which used the funding to put in place outdoor dining infrastructure and develop activations to entice customers back.

During lockdown, BangPop also moved its Thai cooking classes online and created an ecommerce hub to help promote a co-op of local businesses.

The restaurants include Meat Market South Wharf, Plus 5 cocktail bar, Henry and the Fox and The Common Man.

Area manager Sam Shaw said the alliance worked together to ‘pivot to keep the dream alive’.

‘Our teams joined forces to bring you something a little different from other COVID-19 hospitality pivots by providing online experiences including all equipment and ingredients delivered to your door,’ said Sam.

‘We saw that there was a need for people to connect to others throughout the lockdown and much of what was missed during this time was interaction, which is an important part of the hospitality experience.

‘We sought to fill this need and found great success and a way to stay in touch with our customers (and find some new ones) through a tough time for everyone.’

Sam said the mental health of staff and the uncertainty around financial wellbeing presented great challenges for the hospitality industry during the pandemic.

‘At the time of the first lockdown, hospitality staff had no information on financial aid so we were going blind into uncharted territory and it took its toll on all of us,’ Sam said.

‘Through resilience and working together, plus the added support of the government and the City of Melbourne, we were able to keep people engaged, which had a positive effect on their mental state.

‘The learning from 2020 is that we are much stronger working together and through this we can get through anything.’

Looking to the future, Sam believes the hospitality industry will continue to innovate, with an increased focus on local products and produce.

‘The obvious shortage of qualified staff for the hospitality industry, which relied so heavily on international workers, means the industry will need to further embrace technology,’ Sam said.

‘Through this, the usual roles of workers will change and we will see an uplift in local people seeing the industry as a viable career rather than just a means to an end.’

Support for businesses

Local businesses, services and organisations are the lifeblood of Melbourne, and our support for them is multi-layered and ongoing.

Visit Business to subscribe to the Business in Melbourne newsletter and explore the help on offer, including grants, rate relief, marketing support and free outdoor dining permits.

For one-on-one advice, call our dedicated Business Concierge Service on 9658 9658 (press 1 for business), or enquire online at Business.