We don’t need to tell you that the current Omicron outbreak has taken an immeasurable toll on industries across NSW. And once again left holding the short end of the stick are our favourite pubs, bars, restaurants, takeaway joints, and cafes—struggling with staff shortages, supply chain issues, and the difficulties of enforcing restrictions.
Without government financial support of previous lockdowns, businesses face familiar yet new struggles, with no choice but to grit and push through. “It’s a bit like Groundhog Day,” says Sarah Robbins, co-owner and head chef of Sydney’s Bar Luca group. “It’s been hard with staff, but we’re so lucky we have multiple venues, so we’re moving everyone around to cover people.”
It’s a similar story for one of the busiest pubs in Sydney’s historic The Rocks district. “Last week, we had 31 active cases in the front-of-house staff, out of a staff base of around 60,” explains Lincoln Baker, general manager of the Glenmore Hotel. “We lost 25 in three days, myself included.” To help fill the staffing gap within the group, the nearby Australian Heritage Hotel was forced to close for a week.
By now, these difficulties are well documented. And most of us, business-owners included, would much rather talk about ways to safely carry on in this very strange normality and support the hospo folk that need our patronage now more than ever.
“People need to have faith in the venues they’re going to. That we’re doing all the right things to keep them safe and to still have an experience and a good time,” says Julian Cincotta, chef and co-owner of Butter and Mumma Julian’s. “Because without customers, hospitality is nothing.”
Here, we’ve put together a few ways you can do your bit and help Sydney businesses during this current outbreak, so we can all make it out the other side together.
Leave A Positive Online Review
Love your local banh mi shop? Always impressed by the friendly service at the pub down the road? Treated yourself to a dining experience in the city that blew your mind? Then show some extra love to those deserving businesses and jump online to leave them a good review! It’ll only take you a couple of minutes, and positive words can make a huge difference as people search for recommendations online.
Buy Takeaway Directly From The Business
“Buy direct from the store if you can,” says Robbins. “ I know delivery is easy, but if you can get in and support the store, it’s definitely appreciated by any business.” We all got really used to straight-to-our-door delivery during lockdowns—and for good reason as the safe and recommended option at the time. But now that we’re all out and about again remember that businesses lose revenue through delivery platform commissions. “Order takeaway and definitely pick it up,” says Cincotta. “Don’t order it through Uber Eats and make them charge us 30%.” Look for deliveries done by stores themselves or order online or over the phone and pick it up when you can.
Get On Socials
This should be an easy and obvious one for most of us always on our phones and on social media: share the love and spread the word! Snap a pic of that delicious brunch or of your mates enjoying a sunset beer garden session for the world to see. Then get on those socials, tag, and do a little bit of free promotion. You’ll find that most hospo businesses will make the effort to re-share your IG stories and absolutely love people getting around them in that way.
Be Kind And Patient
This is a no brainer and one of the best ways you can show your appreciation, now and always, for the hard work and long hours that go into making Sydney hospitality as great as it is. Don’t get annoyed if a venue is forced to close for the night because it can’t staff the shift. Be patient and don’t kick up a stink if you have to wait a little longer in line for a drink because a manager is dealing with three problems at once. Essentially, just don’t be a dick. It’s easy.
Buy Merch Or Vouchers
If you’re feeling in any way hesitant to go out dining or drinking like you normally would, buy some online vouchers for your favourite spots. That revenue will help businesses right now as cases peak, and you can use them later on at your pleasure. Or even gift vouchers to someone stuck in a week of isolation as a reward when they get out. Finally, now is definitely the time to purchase and rock some merch sold by a lot of businesses—there’s no better way to show love!
Use Your Dine & Discover Vouchers
“The Dine & Discover vouchers have been super helpful,” explains Baker. “We’re getting heaps of those coming through the door.” Remember when the government gave us a bunch of free money to use on dining and discovering? If you need a refresher, the state government has handed out a total of six $25 vouchers to NSW citizens, encouraging us all to head out to hospo and entertainment venues again. Well, it seems that some people are still yet to use theirs—and nope, they haven't expired yet if that's you. So drop everything, dial up the Service NSW app and go grab a free lunch right now. Head here for more information on how to use your Dine & Discover vouchers.
Take Advantage Of Al Fresco Dining
We’re all doing the best we can to promote heading out safely–and a big part of that has been the City of Sydney Council’s al fresco dining initiative. As part of the initiative and helping us make the most of each sunny day, businesses in and around the city have been granted fast and free permit applications to extend their trade to parking spaces and sidewalks. So, make sure you take advantage of that extra outdoor space this summer and enjoy as many spritz cocktails under the sun as you can.
Need some inspo on which Sydney restaurant, cafe, or bar to hit up next? Head over here.
Image credit: Butter