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Opening the door to new opportunities

“Get the romance of the cooking without any of the hard work.” - Shane Delia

Shane Delia, Melbourne chef and restaurateur

Remember dining out? A crowded bar, a buzzing café, a bustling restaurant? For many of us, these were favourite places. Then they were closed and can now only open under very limited conditions. I miss them but for their owners the situation is vastly harder.


Businesses in Australia have had to become more resilient than ever in 2020, first facing pressures from bushfires and floods and now the ongoing economic and social impacts of COVID-19.


The hospitality sector has been hit particularly hard. Even the return of dine-in options for many restaurants across the country doesn’t mean a return to normal. Limited tables, social distancing – in a business where profit margins can be measured by tables filled.


But should the hospitality industry be looking for a return to normal? Or is this an opportunity to change the game?


Recently, I spoke with Shane Delia, one of the most prominent chefs and restaurateurs in Melbourne, on podcast.


Talking with Shane I learned a lot about the way he views change and opportunity. He, for one, doesn’t want to see a return to the way things were in the hospitality industry.


“I don't know why hospitality would be rushing to get things back to normal,” Shane says. “If we remember rents increasing, cost of business getting high, more legislative restrictions placed on businesses, profit margins reducing, a highly competitive market… I don't really want to rush back to that.


“So if this pandemic has given us the chance to adapt… take a breath and pause and have a look at our businesses a little bit differently, I'm embracing that,” Shane says.


With relaxed restrictions allowing customers to begin dining out at their local restaurants, Shane looks ahead and sees a storm brewing on the horizon despite the break in the clouds.


“There's a storm coming… I think that all of our deferred payments are going to be a struggle to meet,” he says.


“I don't see how we can how we can turn around a traditional industry that was already broken. I don't see how when the government stops supporting the economy, we will (turn around the sector) because we're living in a bubble.


I've got restaurants that I love and I want the traditional market to re-establish itself and open and I'll be doing everything I can to make that happen. But I really do think it's time for lateral thinking. I do think it's time for establishing a new market that speaks to a larger customer base than the constraints of a dining room which is now hamstrung by 20 per cent.”


Should the hospitality industry be looking for a return to normal? Or is this an opportunity to change the game? Photo credit: Pete Dillon


New opportunities


For Shane, this new market is Providoor, which delivers ‘finish at home’  dishes from some of Melbourne’s best restaurants such as Supernormal, Movida, Flower Drum and his own, Maha.


“We deliver to 35 kilometres outside the [Melbourne] CBD in certified sanitised, cold-freight logistics. I mean, health and safety are more important now than ever,” Shane says.


Many restaurateurs made the switch to takeaway and delivery in response to COVID-19 but instead of travelling hot - and slowly deteriorating on its short journey to customers -  each meal from Providoor is designed to travel.


“It's a three quarters cooked or fully cooked meal that just has to be finished by the home cook. So you get the romance of the cooking without any of the hard work,” he says.


Instead of travelling hot - and slowly deteriorating on its short journey to customers - each meal from Providoor is designed to travel. Photo credit: Pete Dillon

Once your order is in, your restaurant of choice will prepare your meal, part cook it, allow it to cool, package it and deliver it to you the following day.


“You get your order in by 5pm and it's on your doorstep by midday the next day,” says Shane. “And more often than not by about 8am.”


Meals arrive either partially or fully cooked and just need to be reheated or finished off.


You can find out more about Providoor on their website.


Healthy habits


We’re all facing a moment in time between what used to be normal and what the future could be. Not having all the answers can be frightening for some. Ensuring we’re taking time to keep ourselves healthy is just as important as finding the time to keep our businesses healthy.


Shane’s discussion of this was a particularly poignant part of our conversation because it would resonate with so many businesses I’ve spoken to.


“Everywhere you look, there seems to be a story or reason why you should give up,” Shane says, “But I think that they're the reasons that we have to keep pushing forward.”


Shane knows his limits, explaining that on the morning of our call it was tough to keep going. Having a strong support network outside of his business is important in keeping his perspective.


“The biggest thing is the connection I have with my wife and some really good friends who predominately sit outside of my industry. This gives me an opportunity to gain not just advice but perspective."

“Get the romance of the cooking without any of the hard work.” Shane says. Photo credit: Pete Dillon


“I've always been a firm believer in vulnerable leadership,” Shane says. “To show vulnerability with your staff and with your friends is a real asset. And I mean, I'm not too afraid to ask for help. So I think a mixture of all of those kinds of things has helped me get through this.”


As Shane says, that’s not just an issue in the hospitality industry, it’s everywhere. And in these coming months support, connections and communication are going to be particularly important.


Listen to the podcast above to hear the full conversation.


For more stories from ANZ small businesses and how they’re managing COVID-19 visit ANZ News.


For the latest information on COVID-19 visit anz.com/covid-19.



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