How to help Melbourne's restaurants during the coronavirus pandemic

The lunch platter at Moroccan Soup Bar Two Go.
The lunch platter at Moroccan Soup Bar Two Go. Photo: Darrian Traynor

The hospitality industry is facing huge cancellations and potentially further restrictions if Australia follows the lead of the US, Italy and France in closing venues. Business owners now trying to work out via home delivery offers and other initiatives how to serve the community, keep staff employed, while keeping everyone safe. 

Right now, restaurants are open and at time of print, recommendations allow for us to eat out with added diligence. In response, restaurants are making more space between tables, limiting the number of customers in store, upping hygiene checks and also asking diners to do their part and wash their hands.

Other operators are preparing for potential further restrictions. Hana Assafiri, of the hugely popular Moroccan Soup Bar, has closed the dine-in restaurant, but has extended the hours of Moroccan Two Go, and will redeploy workers as delivery workers.

Several restaurants including Etta are creating travel-friendly menus that can be picked up or delivered.
Several restaurants including Etta are creating travel-friendly menus that can be picked up or delivered. Photo: Luis Enrique Ascui

Several restaurants are doing the same. Joseph Vargetto of Mister Bianco and Massi is running "The Italian Job" and will make home-cooked essentials like pastas, lasagnes, beef cheeks, chicken stocks, and will deliver it in a Mini. Hatted restaurants like Tulum, Etta and Aromi are likewise creating travel-friendly menus that can be picked up or delivered. All these restaurants are still open at time of print, but adding the service to counter lower bookings.

Common Ground, a farm cafe near Geelong is creating fresh produce boxes. It's pick-up only, but a site better than fighting at supermarkets.

Further ideas are still being workshopped, including pay-it-forward voucher schemes, and a petition to UberEats and Deliveroo to lower their commission (up to 35 per cent) for restaurants to use their service.

Need jobs done? Don't want to face the supermarket? Event company Our Boys and Girls is kicking off an "errand service" where the staff who lost all event work overnight can be hired for your needs.