Restaurants, cafes and pubs: After Lockdown

Restaurants, cafes and pubs: After LockdownRestaurants, cafes and pubs: After Lockdown

Diners are being asked to help the state's restaurants, cafes and pubs.

The state government is set to reopen pubs, restaurants and cafes after the latest coronavirus testing data showed low levels of community transmission.

Cafes, restaurants and pubs may serve meals to up to 20 people from June 1, 2020.

Melbourne arrive on time
Melbourne spend $120+
Melbourne limit sitting time to 2 hours
Melbourne follow social distancing guidelines

Crown Restaurants Reopen

Crown Restaurants Reopen from Friday 6th June 2020...

After Lockdown

When Victorian restaurants begin reopening from next week under strict social distancing measures, venue owners are calling for customers to play by the rules too.

That means arriving on time, leaving when required, and letting the restaurant know if there is no intention to show up for a booking.

"Traffic can't be an excuse for arriving late these days," says Peter Gunn, owner-chef of two-hatted Collingwood restaurant Ides.

Gunn says his dining room is "already stacked" with bookings after Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews announced the state's restaurants, cafes and pubs will be able to cater for up to 20 customers at a time from June 1.

In order to maximise guest numbers and make a profit, a minimum spend of $120 per person is required for Ides' four-course menu, and early sittings are limited to two hours. A late arrival can be a major disruption for the kitchen and service team.

"We're considering making reminder calls to customers," says Gunn. "Instead of phoning a party if they're 15 minutes late, it might be better to call guests half an hour beforehand to see how they're tracking.

"However, with a reduced tasting menu and number of seats, we will also have less staff. Extra steps such as confirmation calls put a strain on service, especially when combined with all the additional hygiene measures we're taking. It's not going to be easy coming back."

Christian McCabe is the co-owner of CBD wine bars Embla and Lesa. He says restaurants will need to be "pretty honest" with customers about their expectations while venues are operating at a reduced capacity.

"If there are only 20 seats, you can't sit there for hours on one glass of wine - you have to spend money. We don't care if people want to eat a lot of food and drink nothing, or buy a lot of great wine and only order a few snacks, as long as they pay their way."

McCabe believes most people will understand what is required of them as customers as Melbourne emerges from the coronavirus crisis.

"The fact all restaurants were on the brink of collapse when the shutdown was announced shows that if we're trying to fleece people out of their money, we've collectively done a terrible job of it."

At Masani Italian Dining, sommelier Kara Maisano says it is important guests don't feel rushed when the Carlton restaurant reopens from June 1.

"It has always been a very bespoke experience at the restaurant, so we want people to visit us and feel welcomed. If they want to take more than two hours to leisurely enjoy the restaurant, then we'll try our best to work with that."

In South Yarra, Matilda chef Scott Pickett is celebrating his restaurant's second birthday on June 1 with a one-off $250 luxury menu featuring crab, caviar, local wagyu and fresh truffle, before switching to a set-price menu of up to four courses for $120.

"It's going to be a big challenge to make the restaurant profitable with 20 customers at a time," he says.

"JobKeeper helps to soften the blow, but at Matilda, only four of my 15 chefs qualify for the payment because we have always supported a lot of international workers. If everyone qualified, then maybe you could catch up on bills and put a little cash aside."

Gunn says he has no plans to introduce a prepaid booking policy at Ides any time soon.

"That might work for ultrapremium venues around the world, but we're a small, independent restaurant. It doesn't feel right to demand $100 from someone up front. We've also found that by hosting the odd prepaid event in the past, you don't get a lot of extra spend on drinks and additional menu items. Right now, all we want to do is reopen and treat our guests to the best time possible."

Melbourne restaurants reopening ask customers to arrive on time

This article is from the May 24, 2020 issue of The Age Digital Edition.
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What Victorians are allowed to do from June 1

Victorians will have new (old) freedoms from Monday, June 1 - that's just seven days from today, for those who are counting.

Here are some of the key changes, announced by the Premier this morning, that will come into effect from June 1:

Victorians will be allowed gatherings of up to 20 people in their homes, including the members of a household. For a family of five, that means 15 visitors.

Public gatherings (indoor and outdoor) will increase to 20 people.

Cafes, restaurants and pubs may serve meals to up to 20 people.

Overnight stays will be allowed in both private residences and hotels.

Campgrounds, caravan parks and tourist accommodation allowed to reopen, as long as shared bathroom and kitchen facilities are not used.

Beauty therapy, tanning, waxing, nail salons, spas, tattoo parlours and massage parlours may reopen with up to 20 patrons.

Galleries, museums, zoos, historic sites, arcades, drive-in cinemas and outdoor amusement parks will reopen with up to 20 patrons per space.

Weddings will be allowed up to 20 people, plus the celebrant and couple.

Funerals can increase to 50 people (indoors and outdoors).

Religious services may increase to up to 20 people, plus those required to conduct the ceremony.

Bootcamps can increase to 20 people, plus an instructor.

Auction houses, real estate auctions and open house inspections can increase to 20 people.

Libraries, youth centres and other community facilities allowed to reopen with no more than 20 people in a single area, plus those needed to operate the space.



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Restaurants, cafes and pubs: After Lockdown

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