02/12/2021

5 things We Learnt From Hot Takes & Takeaways Ep 2

Editorial Team | Events

Episode two of Hot Takes & Takeaways delivered on its promise of covering a lot of ground. Hosted by comedian Gen Fricker, the live stream hosted on Concrete Playground’s Facebook page discussed a variety of topics impacting hospitality today.

From mask-wearing and suburb segregation to a secret wage war that is seeing the price of a pot wash skyrocket, no topic was off-limits. Guests included Jeremey Blackmore, owner of venues Cantina Ok, Tio’s Cerveceria, The Cliff Dive, Kobi Morris; Operations Manager at The Paramount Coffee Project and Issac Martin, owner of Chew Crew Media. Here are five things we learnt.

Covid has created a larger divide but also helped to develop stronger local communities

Covid has done good and bad things for our food industry. In many respects, the lockdowns and dine in restrictions have played havoc with the bottom line of almost every business but it has also provided customers with an opportunity to better connect with their local areas. 2021 has been a year of shopping, dining, and grabbing coffee locally and the proprietors of that business have reaped the rewards and widened their customer base for the business going forward.

As Issac Martin says: “I live in Western Sydney, it’s probably the most segregated I’ve ever seen Sydney for a long time… The East was very divided on more than just one front. I think on a micro-level, the East had to support the East. They couldn’t leave. The West was in the West. They couldn’t leave. So, coming out of lockdown, made local communities a lot stronger…so there’s almost a subculture in the West now where they’ve had to develop something… Every community now is self-sufficient.”

Masks continue to be something we must work with, but it does limit the ability for staff to connect with customers

When it comes to service culture, the connection is everything. Unfortunately, although masks are helping to minimise transmission, they do pose a problem when it comes to connecting with customers. Not only do they prevent effective communication, but they leave a barrier that is hard to circumnavigate.

As Jeremey Blackmore says: “I really feel for our guys that are all day in it and it’s especially in these kinds of places [bars], like it’s so much about connection and you’re just like missing this huge piece of the puzzle. I think now they’re mostly getting by with hand signals in nightclubs.”

There is a staffing shortage and it’s turning into a salary war

Staff shortages continue to plague hospitality as restaurants struggle to find the people, they usually source from overseas travellers and working holiday visa holders. As a result a wage war has surfaced.

As Issac Martin says: “…it’s just ridiculous what some venues are going to the lengths of offering. …They are offering kitchen hands $50 an hour for weekend work. Chefs are getting a $5,000 fee just for signing on with a business as long as they commit to three months because they’re just that desperate.”

Staff will always want to work at good venues for good people

When it comes to retaining staff, Blackmore says great venues, safe operators and brands that care will always attract staff looking to work for a business of value and worth. We may just need to ride the storm in the short term.

As Jeremey Blackmore says: “I think that wages are going to have to rise. I think that’s part of it, but I don’t think most people in hospitality care as much about money as people think. I think they mostly care for good employees and good employers that do nice things for them, care about where they’re going and who they are.”

Things our guests are most looking forward to experiencing include new burger joints, old classics, and Blockbuster movies.

There is much to look forward to and as hospitality booms, it’s not only customers but hospitality staff that are getting out and enjoying the food, culture and nightlife.

As Jeremey Blackmore says: “I am excited to drink Italian wine at Paski Vineria Popolare. I am excited to eat some seventies, French food at Ursula’s. I’m excited to go and see Dune [at the cinema].”

Issac Martin says: “…to be honest, there are these cool burgers opening at the Darling Harbour area. Wahlburgers is supposed to be happening in December, so I’ll be very keen to go.”

Watch the full episode of Hot Takes and Takeaways episode 2 HERE. Missed Episode 1? You can watch that in full HERE.

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