How the hospitality industry can combat COVID-19

Goodman Fielder Food Service
How the hospitality industry can combat COVID-19

How the hospitality industry can combat COVID-19

Posted on 6th May 2020
Has your hospitality venue been affected by COVID-19? Have you been stood down from the role you loved, while Australia battles what could be the biggest health crisis in our lifetime? You’re not alone – find out how food service venues across the country are combatting COVID-19 via takeaway and food delivery.

Summary

Covid-19 has impacted hospitality particularly hard – however there are a number of options available to those working within the industry. We run through the implications for business and the opportunities moving forward.

What is COVID-19?

COVID-19 (coronavirus) is the health pandemic that has recently brought the world to a standstill, but what exactly is it?

According to the national Health Department, COVID-19 originated in Wuhan, China and is a respiratory illness caused by a new virus.

The Health Department has advised that the common symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, coughing, sore throat, fatigue and shortness of breath and it can spread:

  • Through direct contact with a person who is infected with COVID-19;
  • Through contact with an infected person who coughs or sneezes without practicing safe hygiene practices; and
  • By touching objects or surfaces that have been contaminated by an infected person and then touching your mouth or face.

When looking at how fast the virus can travel, the first case was documented in December 202 and by mid-April there were  over 2.57 million confirmed cases and 177,602 deaths across the globe.

Closer to home in Australia, on 2nd May we had reported 6,801 confirmed cases, 95 deaths and 5,817 recovered.

Despite the large numbers, Australia doesn’t have a widespread community transmission of COVD-19, unlike other countries. This suggests that the majority of our confirmed cases have been acquired overseas.

So, how has COVID-19 affected the Australian hospitality industry:

After the first case of COVID-19 was detected in Victoria in late January, the fear of the rapid rate of infection prompted Australia to implement measures to limit the risk.

As cases increased and more Australians became vulnerable to the situation, the government initiated gradual shutdowns across the country in late March.

Unfortunately, the hospitality industry was the first victim and so far, has been the hardest hit.

“It has been a roller-coaster of a ride…We were impacted earlier than the shutdown with the changes of how many people you were allowed in with the four-square rule on the Friday (March 21),” owner of Sydney’s Beppi’s Italian Marc Polese told Goodman Fielder Food Service.

“We had to measure out the restaurant and work out how many people we could have and then it changed on the Sunday (March 22) and we were told we had to close on the Monday.”

“It happened so rapidly.”

Chairs stacked in an empty restaurant

That was when we said goodbye to the industry as we knew it, as venues either shut up shop or switched to takeaway only.

And with these restrictions in place, jobs were impacted.

By the first week of April, more than a quarter of jobs in hospitality were lost – with the majority of those impacted coming as a result of venues being compelled to close, the ABC reported.

“As a small business that has been going for 64 years, the financial side hasn’t been too much of a consideration for us,” Marc explained.

“For me, it’s more about continuing the name on, continuing to service our customers and more than anything giving our staff a little bit of income and purpose, especially psychologically.”

It’s not known when restrictions could be lifted by, however Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said measures will be reviewed on a monthly basis.

How you can amend your menu to fit a takeaway concept:

So, as the buzzing noise of restaurants packed with customers comes to a halt, businesses have begun to find ways to stay afloat.

While some have decided to close their doors to the public and stand down their staff, others have amended their business to fit a takeaway model with the use of pick-ups or delivery.

Celebrity chef, Adrian Richardson is one of the many business owners who has worked with his staff to bring a new offering to his customers.

“[La Luna] decided to go for an online food portal and do mostly pick-ups and some deliveries,” Adrian told Goodman Fielder Food Service.

“Basically, we [can now] sell some of the food that we make here, like our small goods and our meat that is dry aged.

We’ve also been able to do pre-packaged, pre-cooked meals that are ready and easy to heat up and enjoy at home and that seems to be working really well,” he explained.

In Sydney, Marc has also amended his Italian menu to fit the new way of food delivery.

“The mandatory closure meant [takeaway] was really our only option other than closing,” he explained.

To ensure he was ready, Marc developed a website, “investigated sales platforms so people can order online” and began to engage with customers through social media.

But it didn’t stop there.

The business owner explained he had to find the right containers, labels and bags, as well as develop a travel-friendly menu that still consisted of some of Beppi’s classics.

To do so, they’ve removed their seafood dishes and kept their famous homemade pastas, which are available either as a meal or raw.

And instead of signing up to a delivery company, Marc said it was “important to keep my staff,” so he decided to employ them as delivery drivers.

Making meals takeaway friendly

Restaurant empire, Merivale Group have also made changes to their offering by launching Merivale At Home, which offers takeaway from Fred’s, Mr Wong, Totti’s, Bert’s and Vinnie’s Pizza.

The group are also selling fruit and vegetable produce boxes in partnership with their suppliers.

The current environment has prompted innovation for some businesses and despite the circumstances of being restricted to takeaway dining, Marc admits he has found it exciting to see Beppi’s evolve.

“We’ve never had any of these resources [website, delivery, social media] before and what’s been amazing to see is the enthusiasm with my staff towards this,” he said.

“They want to be here, even if there isn’t much to do because there’s that other side of just wanting to be involved and having a purpose, which is really great.”

Goodman Fielder’s quick tips for adapting your menu:

  1. Stick to dishes that travel well.
  2. Organise branded stickers for containers and delivery bags.
  3. Avoid expensive proteins.
  4. Offer meals that have good margins.
  5. Sell dry or shelf stable goods like pastas and bread.
  6. Create take-home packages with all the ingredients for customers to create themselves.
  7. Develop ready-to-heat or frozen options.

Want to opt for online delivery services?

In Australia, your online delivery options are limited, with only three major players and a handful of newcomers.

And since COVID-19 sign ups to these food ordering apps have boomed.

In fact, Deliveroo reported that they received a 435% jump in restaurant partners during the last week of March, compared to the two weeks prior.

Data has also shown that sales through delivery services also increased by 63%.

And in the wake of coronavirus, the online delivery services have made amends and scrapped their usual 30 – 35% service fees to assist venues.

  1. Uber Eats
  • Now offer daily payments instead of weekly.
  • Erased service fees on pick up orders until June 30.
  1. Deliveroo
  • Moved to daily payments to help ease cashflow pressures.
  • Dedicated teams to onboard and support restaurants who are new to delivery.
  • Launch of Deliveroo Marketplace+ which offers lower fees if you provide the driver.
  1. Menulog
  • No lock in contracts.
  • Halved all commission on pick up orders.
  • Waived all relevant costs for signing up to the platform.
  1. DoorDash
  • Halved commissions for restaurants with less than five locations until the end of May.
  • Waived delivery fees.
  • Removed fees on pick up orders.
  • Offering free sign up and zero commissions fees for 30 days.

Delivery rider

The government grants available to help you, your business and staff:

Looking for ways to keep your business moving in the right direction?

To help the economy and businesses during COVID-19, there’s a number of government grants available that can help you keep afloat.

  1. Job Keeper Payment – designed to keep workers employed during COVID-19.
  • What is it: $1,500 per fortnight (before tax) wage subsidy paid directly to the Employee.
  • Who is eligible:
    • Businesses who’ve experienced a downturn of 30%.
    • Businesses with an annual turnover of more than $1B and have lost more than 50%.
    • Full time, part time and sole traders.
    • Casual workers who have been with the company for more than 12 months.
  • When: Payments will be rolled out mid-May and will be backdated to March 30.
  • For how long: Six months.
  • How you can apply: Enrol for the payment through the ATO Business Portal or through the ATO online services using myGov.
  1. Supporting Apprentices and Trainees Package – aimed to provide assistance to businesses who keep their existing apprentices or trainees employed.
  • What is it: 50% subsidy for wages paid to apprentices or trainees. Businesses will be reimbursed up to a max of $21,000 per eligible apprentice or trainee.
  • Who is eligible:
    • Small businesses who employ less than 20 full-time workers and retain an apprentice or trainee [is there a annual turnover for this one?].
  • When: Available now.
  • For how long: Support will cover wages paid from January 1 to September 30.
  • How you can apply: Register through an Australian Apprenticeship Support Network provider.
  1. Coronavirus Supplement Package – support payments for eligible individuals who’ve lost their jobs due to COVID-19.
  • What is it: $550 per fortnight.
  • Who is eligible:
    • Individuals who receive eligible income support payment.
    • Those who have lost their source of income due to COVID-19.
  • When: From April 27.
  • For how long: Six months.
  • How you can apply: You can make a claim though myGov using your Centrelink online account.
  1. Boosting Cash Flow for Employers – assists eligible small and medium businesses to manage cashflow challenges (paying rent, electricity and other bills) and help retain employees.
  • What is it: Eligible businesses will receive between $20,000 and $100,000 in cash flow boosts by lodging their Business Activity Statements.
  • Who is eligible:
    • Small and medium businesses with a turnover under $50 million who withhold tax for employees.
  • When: From April 28.
  • How you can apply: Automatically calculated by the ATO – no new forms required.
  1. Code of Conduct for Commercial Tenancies – principals for landlords and tenants to negotiate rent for businesses during COVID-19.
  • What is it:
    • Where there is financial distress caused by COVID-19, tenants and landlords should negotiate a mutually agreed outcome.
    • Prohibition on termination of leases for non-payment of rent.
    • Freeze on rent increases.
    • Prohibition on penalties for tenants who stop trading or reduce hours.
    • Prevention on landlords charging interest on unpaid rent.

For more information about support available, visit:

Now’s the time to check in on your colleagues:

The hospitality industry is already prone to mental illness.

So, in a time when things are even more stressful than normal, it’s more important than ever to check in on your mates.

And for Adrian, it’s those chats that’s allowed him to think positively about the future.

“My chef buddies and I may speak once, maybe twice through the year, but we’ve been on the phone every week [since COVID-19], even if it is just a text message of something silly,” he explained.

Ordering takeaway food with mask and gloves

“It’s been really good for me because I feel like these guys are watching out for me, they’re looking after me and talking to me.

“It’s been really good to have that network tighten up and really shown up.”

Adrian added that while the phone calls are a simple gesture, they’ve been really important to him over the last few weeks.

“I have also had a few phone calls from people in moments where I really needed someone to talk to and it’s been really helpful for me because it’s pretty dark and you have some pretty dark thoughts,” he explained.

“Like, everything’s been shut down, so what happens? Like I’ve got houses, businesses, kids and all of a sudden it could all be gone.

“And I have 30 employees who rely on me for their well-being and they need me to be up and come up with ideas to keep it all moving, and the thought that I have is what if I can’t open up again? What if this goes on for a year or two, I will be shutting everything down; I will have to sell off.”

Adrian went on to explain that “the responsibility and the burden” COVID-19 has put on chefs and business owners is “heavy but having people around with similar burdens has helped make it a little easier.”

So, as the days and months roll by, the restaurateur has developed himself a mental health plan to get through the dark clouds, including exercise.

“I’ve been getting up early and walking the dogs for about an hour, sometimes two hours and I’ve found that that it’s been giving me the mental capacity to deal with things and process things in my head,” he said.

If you or anyone you know needs help, please contact the below helplines:

Related Ideas

25th March 2020

The importance of mentorships in hospitality

The hospitality industry is changing at a pace we have never seen before. To make these challenging times slightly easier, a greater emphasis needs to be placed on mentoring and training the younger generation of chefs to ensure the future of hospitality is stronger than ever before.
29th January 2020

4 menu management skills every chef needs

Want to make your menu management an easy task? We've found 4 ways you can manage your menu while saving you costs.
27th November 2019

The four-day work week: could this be the solution to the current chef shortage?

Could the four-day working week help the hospitality industry? Could this finally be the answer to the current chef shortage in Australia?

More ideas

The importance of mentorships in hospitality

25th March 2020
The hospitality industry is changing at a pace we have never seen before. To make these challenging times slightly easier, a greater emphasis needs to be placed on mentoring and training the younger generation of chefs to ensure the future of hospitality is stronger than ever before.

Around the World in Rice: 7 Traditional Rice Dishes

25th February 2020
Rice is an ingredient that can be used in more ways than one, so we've found seven traditional rice dishes you can place on your menu in an instant

The 7 biggest food trends from the past decade

19th February 2020
The 2010s was a big year for food - check out some of the biggest food trends from the past decade and whether they are still relevant to your menu planning today.

Start Getting Fed with Ideas

Be inspired with Recipes created by Chefs.
Sign Up for GF Foodservice News