Restaurant owners have opened up about the grim prospects of the hospitality industry after the drastic changes caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Dining-out was banned indefinitely across Australia last month as part of the governments strict social distancing measures to curb the spread of the deadly disease.
Bars, restaurants and cafes had to either close or offer takeaway-only.
The changes have been devastating for the industry, with thousands of people suddenly out of work.
There is hope the measures could be eased in six months, however, industry insiders have predicted even when they are able to reopen, it won’t be the same.
Scott Pickett, who owns the Matilda in South Yarra, Melbourne, said he might lose his house due to the government mandates
Dining-out was banned indefinitely across Australia last month as part of the governments strict social distancing measures to curb the spread of the deadly disease (Pictured: Empty tables at the Opera Bar restaurant, Sydney)
With a looming recession, many are now wondering how many establishments will be able to reopen when the pandemic finally ends.
Sydney hospitality entrepreneur Luke Mangan said all hospitality venues will struggle, but he believes it will be the higher-end restaurants that will feel the brunt of the changes.
‘It’s going to be a new game. Restaurants and cafes struggle already, so I think we will see smaller menus and smaller staff,’ he told The Weekend Australian.
Victorian chef Michael Ryan said there will likely be fewer restaurants and cafes.
Scott Pickett, who owns the Matilda in South Yarra, Melbourne, has been left wondering what his new business model might end up looking like.
‘We can handle this phase, if we’re lucky … but I’m re-evaluating, every day, what I cook and what I want to cook … do I want to be keeping up with the Joneses any more with refined food? Or something else,’ he said.
‘Are people going to be able to afford to eat out?’ Pickett asked. ‘Does local become special? And what about the suppliers and the staff … how do they keep going?’
Pickett said he is also looking to the future beyond the pandemic when restaurants can operate again. Pictured: Pickett’s restaurant, Matilda
Chris Lucas, who owns restaurants such as Kisume, has a more optimistic view.
He believes people will want to connect immediately after restrictions are lifted and that dining out is part of that.
‘People will come back to going to restaurants but it will take time. A negative wealth effects going to wash through the market,’ he said.
However, he does acknowledge the longer this continues, the growing number of businesses that will have to close.
Businesses will also need to consider practical things such as table spacing when they reopen, as government laws surrounding social distancing may stay in place.
Australia has had 5,550 cares of coronavirus, with 30 deaths, as of Sunday morning
It means restaurants will be less crowded but bookings will be essential as businesses try to cater to demand.
Cleaning procedures and items regularly found on the table – like salt, pepper and sugar – may also be reconsidered.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison began to put restrictions limiting bars, restaurants and clubs to 100-patrons on March 16.
Later restrictions limited patrons based on the square footage of the venue before they were all closed on March 23.
Restaurants and bars can still provide takeaway or deliveries but no one can sit inside the establishment.