Foodie trends, business predictions and actionable advice on what restaurateurs should be thinking about over the next 12 months.
Restauranteurs have had a lot to contend with over the past year, many continue to grapple with operational challenges brought about by the ongoing global pandemic.
But with problems come learnings and Covid-19 has provided nothing if not opportunities to learn. So, we have pulled insights from a wide field of restaurateurs across the country to discover how the hospitality industry should be adapting through these uncertain times.
1. Make money when your doors are closed
Covid-19 has highlighted how hard it is to make money when venue doors are closed. Restaurant owners have been forced to reassess how businesses make money when lockdowns become thumb screws for profits. It’s for this reason we’ve seen a huge shift in the reinvention of revenue streams.
Whether it be apparel, merchandise, homemade sauces, ready-meals, delivery or some other item, restaurants are thinking bigger than food. This enables business owners to better regulate cash flow and create a buffer for when their primary source of income is negatively affected. Our key takeaway – ensure you’re doing everything you can to take your restaurant digital.
“You’re more than just a restaurant. You are a business or a brand that has a product that you can grow nationally because of the situation you’re in,” says Adam Cheers, owner of Peanut Butter Jelly in Sydney and the founder of Hustle Media Group. Alongside running his own restaurant, he has invested his time to help restauranteurs negotiate Covid by offering free consultancy advice.
“Even if you’re a little cafe you now have the chance to seek your own sources nationwide. There will be something in every business, in my opinion, that you could create that would, that would expand what your business currently does to create more opportunity for that, that business sidearm”
This approach is echoed by many who have found ways to pull in extra dollars from services or products they have traditionally ignored. “We have been able to invest in the art space, we’re looking to create non-fungible tokens as part of an art series and we’ve created a clothing range,” says Butter Sydney co-founder and executive chef Julian Cincotta. “You need to find an authentic way to do more than just one thing.”
2. Gather The Right People Around You
Kirsty Chiaplias, owner of Babajan in Melbourne says running restaurants is a tough business and experience is only part of the arsenal one needs to succeed. Alongside great food, flawless execution, consistency and passion for the long hours, she says you also need a support team around you to make the whole thing tick.
“You can’t just love wine or love coffee. I think you need to really put yourself in a lot of different experiences before you enter into a business… You need a good accountant, really good people around you, that you can talk to, that understand what you need.” Chiaplias believes that many restaurateurs are often ill-equipped when it comes to understanding the building blocks of a good business and says that passion and skills with a knife can only get you so far.
This sentiment is echoed by Co-Founder and Director of Gnocchi Gnocchi Brothers Ben Cleary-Corradini who impresses the value of building a team with complementary skillsets. “There’s only so much that I can do but we build a team around us all going in the same direction you become so powerful.”
3. Experiment then Experiment Some More
Covid-19 has forced every business owner to reassess and change their day-to-day operations, be it a mom-and-pop shop or an international hotelier. Jared Thibault, Director of Food and Beverage Operations Australia at Ovolo Hotels, says it also provided businesses, including themselves, opportunities to experiment. Having already seen some success with a variety of vegetarian focused Ovolo restaurant brands, Thibault says a companywide shift to installing a vegetarian-only menu for an entire year was met with trepidation at first. Yet he believes now is the time to take educated risks.
“Alibi, our vegetarian concept, was doing well in Sydney and we thought other restaurants would work well. Our owner said we should try it for a year.” Thubault says the Luchetti Krelle designed Lona Misa in Melbourne is their number one restaurant at the moment and is indicative of an increased interest in plant-based food.
4. Upskill Your Employees to Create Super Staff
Thibault says Covid-19 has highlighted just how important a consistent and cohesive training program is for staff upskilling and retention. “Staffing is always tough,” he explains adding that a lack of international travellers has made finding young and driven people tougher but that by investing in training you can better mitigate the lack in a hospitality skillset more effectively. “Cross-training is also important,” he adds. “People need to be good at different things.”