It has been a jubilant first week out of lockdown for many cafes, pubs and restaurants.
But some operators are holding back. Ben Shewry has announced Attica will continue its at-home dining series and merchandise sales for the time being. In contrast, Dan Hunter's three-hat restaurant Brae, whose service-style, and intricate dish preparation, is a serious endeavour, has now ceased their produce and baking operations to prepare to reopen full steam on June 25.
Thankfully for Hunter, the restaurant was able to retain its staff, a challenge in regional areas, and a bumper autumn harvest will fuel the $300 -a-head menu. Bookings are open, and will be rolled out in stages with spaces from July 3-August 31 being released on June 11.
For cocktail bars, reopening means even more pivoting thanks to a requirement that all drinks must be consumed with a proper meal. To comply, places such as Bonny in Fitzroy, which was one month young at shutdown, have collaborated with restaurants. IDES chef Peter Gunn has created a dinner menu for $35 comprising focaccia and pickles, beef cheek or eggplant curry, and sides, to allow the bar to trade.
Other businesses, such as Shane Delia's newly-launched Providoor service (which delivers finish-at-home menus from top restaurants such as his own Maha, and Flower Drum), and Cookes Food, an event catering company, are hoping a dinner party renaissance will provide new revenue streams.
While the 20-person guest limit in homes remains, Cookes, working with Donati's Fine Meats, Ash Bros seafood, That's Amore cheese and Bread Club, is offering $155-a-head parties including all crockery, ice and waitstaff.
Joe Vargetto, of Mister Bianco and Massi, has tirelessly pivoted over the shutdown, running produce from the back of a truck and delivering lasagnes in a Mini. He says as soon as reopening was announced the phones were unmanageable, and they had to shut off online reservations to cope. Vargetto says "we could have served people a thousand times over."
While that's cheering and bookings have generally been excellent, Vargetto says CBD restaurants are now facing the prospect of a permanent loss of clientele with several large corporations offering employees the chance to work from home for good.
Pubs have also faced a challenging week of having to break it to keen drinkers that they'll need to pair that pot with a proper meal. Venues such as the Carringbush Hotel have also experienced no-shows, potentially due to customer ignorance that a table of four constitutes 20 per cent of their legal dining capacity. This may lead to unfamiliar territory of putting money where your mouth is and making deposits for parmas.