It’s hard to be hospitable, even for Greeks, when the hospitality industry at large has taken such a whack.
It's fair to say that the latest lockdown rules and C0vid restrictions have wreaked havoc on many businesses this time round, arguably more so than the first lockdown a year ago.
The NSW government yesterday morning announced an extension to the already in place two week lockdown, which was set to end this week, instead for concerns around the general public's safety and the inability to control the spread effectively, lockdown has been extended for another week.
Made worse for small business operators is the decision that the NSW government made about not supporting owners and their staff financially, as they did the first-time round, with no Job Keeper contributions on offer.
IN THE SUBURBS
While some places have adapted to change quite quickly by becoming available via home delivery apps such as UberEats, Deliveroo, Doordash, Menulog and the likes, as well as adjusting their packaging to cater for take away, some places have had to take matters into their own hands due to the lack of response from the said home delivery service platforms, with reports stating that it is next to impossible to even get a reply from the delivery service operators.
Newly opened bakery, zaharoplastio and cafe at the Castellorizian Club in Kingsford, Alevri's third store, known as Alevri.HQ, have created their own funny light-hearted spin on Menulog, by introducing their very own personalised home delivery service, cheekily referred to as "Menuwog", further proving that a good sense of humour is most poignant during times of adversity. The owners as well as their committed staff, are personally hopping into their cars and delivering orders to their customers.
"We have a ‘whatever it takes’ attitude because we knew very early on in the piece that the latest lockdown would have some negative effects on our business." Alevri owner Akis told GCT.
"The problem is, we can't be in two places at once, and are therefore only offering this personal home delivery service to people within the vicinity of Kingsford. Staffing these days is proving to be more and more difficult and without the government's financial support, we can't afford to keep staff on in the hope that we will have loads of orders coming through in our other locations." said Akis.
The places where Alevri.HQ's Menuwog delivery service is available is listed here:
- La Perouse
- Little Bay
- Moore Park
- South Coogee
Yesterday morning, Alevri made an announcement via their socials that their Alevri.X store in Roselands Shopping Centre will be changing their trading hours for the remainder of the lockdown period, after the trend within the centre stipulated their ability to remain open beyond certain times was proving to be futile. It's business as usual at Alevri.X Dulwich Hill, for take away and home delivery via UberEats.
Despite the obvious negative repercussions, most business owners remain open, remain hopeful and remain confident that normality will be restored again soon enough.
GRK Mascot and GRK Meze Grill Ramsgate Beach, are also remaining open for take away and home delivery via UberEats and Menulog, and while their quality and style of menu is not considered seasonal, because let’s face it, gyros, kontosouvli, souvlakia, spanakopita, Greek salad and tzatziki can be enjoyed all year round, the fact remains that they are not only fighting against the restrictions but are also grappling with the cold weather, with less people willing to venture out for take away at night.
Businesses that are considered seasonal, meaning they are typically busier in the warmer or cooler months, like Brighton Kiosk located in Brighton-Le-Sands, are finding the lockdown measures when coupled with the colder weather patterns we have been experiencing of late, to have impacted their business substantially. Still offering take away only, it’s difficult for those who walk, run and exercise at the shorefront to stop, eat and drink, when it’s not permitted to do so. They can only pick up and keep moving.
The Grand Roxy Brighton Le sands
The Grand Roxy, arguably one of Sydney’s most iconic events venue, located in Brighton-Le-Sands, has been left in the lurch, unable to ‘function’ at all. Business owner Bill Mougios, who also owns Bay Vista Dessert Bar BLS, Bay Vista Dessert Bar Parramatta, Meet the Greek, Eurobay and Mootch and Me, has been in the hospitality industry for over 40 years, and while he is a ‘well-seasoned’ entrepreneur and having lived through many adverse times from market crashes, recessions, cash rates blow outs, etc., it’s fair to say he has seen it all; yet he states that the impacts of Covid-19 makes everything else pale in comparison.
“Diversification is the key to survival. But not everyone is in a position to be able to do so. And now is a risky time to look into diversifying your business. There are changes happening that are beyond our control. No amount of vision or foresight can prepare you for complete shut-downs.” Explains Mr Mougios. “With change, one must spend money. Ideas cost money. But if there is no money coming in, how do you diversify, or pivot? These are not easy times.”
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ON THE CITY FRINGE
Owners of the famous Stix and Pita, Enmore, winners of the Australian Good Food Guide’s (AGFG) ‘Best Greek Eatery’ award for 5 years in a row, although famous for their souvlakia, kontosouvlia, pita wraps, platters and natural Greek BBQ’s (Souvlatzidiko style), have introduced two new specials to help their customers get through the lockdown period and to keep themselves on the map.
Food that is set to warm you up and make your taste buds dance. Kota Avgolemono (traditional Greek chicken soup) and Fakes Artisimo, a spin on the authentically Greek lentil soup, served with melt-in-your-mouth, eleven hours slow baked Kleftiko lamb on top, and chargrilled signature pita bread on the side, these dishes are destined to make your time at home a whole lot easier.
"Just recently we announced that we had reopened for lunches again, since we shut them down during the first lockdown." Said Elvis, Co-owner of Stix and Pita. "It took us this long to get back to a position where we could afford to extend our resources, expand our team and re-introduce lunches on weekends, and as quickly as we reopened for lunch, our hand was forced to shut lunches down again."
"We're open for dinner only. We're trying to carry on as normal. We're trying to introduce new ideas, flavours, dishes etc., to entice our existing and prospective customers, but it's pretty hard to keep up morale when dine in customers have dropped to zero." Explained Jim, Stix and Pita Co-owner.
The Twisted Olive, Greek Souvlaki Bar & Café in Redfern, was recently forced to shut down altogether, after a patron who was deemed to be a ‘close contact case’ visited this tasty place.
The five staff who were rostered on, at that particular time, were all sent for mandatory Covid testing and returned negative results; according to owners Graham and Roula. However, the shop was still forced to shut down and staff were ordered to self-isolate for two weeks. A deep clean of the venue was carried out and now after their forced closure they have finally re-opened, but only from 4pm to 9pm, 7 days, from their usual 12pm to 9pm.
IN THE CITY
Zupano Espresso and Bar located at Millers Point is the epitome of 'family business.' Husband, wife, daughter, son, grandmother, grandfather, are all involved.
Offering homemade, specialty "Aussieterranean" food, which is Mediterranean food that is tweaked for Australian palates, this busy little cafe is set right on Sydney Harbour and offers proper Greek family style hospitality.
"This time (speaking about the lockdowns), people are reluctant to move about as much as they did last time. There are simply less people out and about and our business has well and truly been impacted." Said Theo and Antonia, owners of Zupano Espresso and Bar. A shop that usually sells so much coffee that Campos have announced it to be one of their busiest stockists.
"During the school holidays, we've had our son and daughter helping us run deliveries to apartments nearby as we remain open for takeaways and home deliveries via the typical channels, - UberEats, Menulog and Doordash." Said Theo.
Alpha restaurant, located in Sydney's CBD, is arguably one of the greatest places to frequent for exquisite Greek food and wine, whose business model is based around a dine-in experience. Left with no other choice, even this world class venue has had to pivot this time round offering online click and collect ordering, as well as phone order options for pick up and takeaway only.
For Alpha Order here
IN THE SHIRE
There’s a place run by Greeks who opened just before the first lockdown was called, which placed the business behind the eight ball from the get-go. It’s called BoccaBocca and is arguably one of the tastiest casual eateries in town. Offering authentic Neapolitan wood fired pizzas, pastas and incredible cocktails, like their latest invention, The S’mores Martini, they have certainly felt the pinch of the lockdown this time round.
Despite offering their entire menu for home delivery and even their cocktails for pick up, they have experienced a significant drop in sales. “We are fortunate to have established a loyal customer base in the short space of time we’ve been open, but every attempt we have made to expand our reach, or as soon as we gather some momentum, there seems to be another roadblock in store for us. Owners, Jessie and Sok said.
It seems that no matter where businesses are located, be it in the city, city fringe, or the suburbs, the effects on businesses are alarming. Our call to the greater Greek community in Sydney and beyond, is to help all Greek businesses during these trying times. Grab that coffee, that pita, that souvlaki, that gyros, that soup, that galaktoboureko, that bougatsa, that frappe, or whatever your favourite Greek treat may be, and support your local Greek business and in turn the Greek Australian community.
If you have your own story you would like to share, or if you need help with your business, some extra exposure, or to get a message out to existing and new customers, contact Greek City Times. Email: [email protected]