Would you like more than fries with that? Sydney pubs and cafes set up lockdown drive-throughs

Daisy Geale prepares orders at The Bella Vista Hotel, which has launched a drive-through service offering take-home ...
Daisy Geale prepares orders at The Bella Vista Hotel, which has launched a drive-through service offering take-home meals and drinks. Photo: Dominic Lorrimer

From pop-up bakeries to make-your-own banh mi kits, COVID-19 restrictions have led to a wave of innovation from Sydney bars and restaurants as they try to survive lockdown. A rising number of hospitality venues are launching drive-throughs that go beyond burgers and beer slabs.

At the Bella Vista Hotel in Sydney's north-west, customers no longer need to leave the car to pick up their daily bread and afternoon cocktails.

Make-it-at home burgers and san choy bow packs with cupcakes from The Bella Vista Hotel.
Make-it-at home burgers and san choy bow packs with cupcakes from The Bella Vista Hotel. Photo: Dominic Lorrimer

"We sell a ridiculous amount of cocktails each week," says the pub's marketing manager, Emily Sedgman. "Last week we made a [Cadbury] Caramilk-inspired one. Tap beer is also super popular, with people missing their [draught] and filling up growlers."

When lockdown was announced in June, Sedgman's boss was most concerned about keeping staff employed and what the pub could do for the community. A contactless, COVID-safe drive-through that provided essential groceries, family meals and booze seemed like the best idea.

"Our chief executive, Marcello Colosimo, is full of ideas and wants to make the best out of a terrible situation," Sedgman says.

The Bella Vista Hotel drive-through has hosted pop-ups from Gelato Messina and Boost Juice.
The Bella Vista Hotel drive-through has hosted pop-ups from Gelato Messina and Boost Juice. Photo: Dominic Lorrimer

The Bella Vista Hotel is part of the six-venue portfolio of Momento Hospitality. The group has combined elements from menus at its other pubs, such as The Governor Hotel in Macquarie Park, to create new specials each week for its Bella Vista drive-through.

Best-selling family meals have featured beef ribs, lasagne, garlic bread and sticky date pudding. Recent pop-ups from Gelato Messina and Boost Juice have also been a success with locals.

"Before the lockdown we were hoping to do a collaboration [with Messina] in our Italian restaurant, so we presented them with this opportunity and they were keen to get involved," Sedgman says. "Their items sell like crazy and they're introducing their fans to our venue."

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Meanwhile, in Brookvale, Bucketty's Brewing Co has flipped its beer garden to function as a drive-through while coronavirus restrictions are in place.

"[On the day] we found out lockdown was happening, punters were out by 6pm and we had our first car in drive-through an hour later," says Bucketty's co-owner Nick McDonald.

With tap beers, takeaway cans and a taco truck on site, the only thing missing was live music, which McDonald was quick to fix.

Takeaway cocktails at The Bella Vista Hotel.
Takeaway cocktails at The Bella Vista Hotel. Photo: Dominic Lorrimer

"Friday and Saturdays we have a live musician," he says. "There's no singing because of COVID, but we have a pianist or someone on decks playing loops. People might only be here for five minutes, but we want them to enjoy themselves."

Inner-west locals searching for a caffeine-fuelled drive-through can head to Black Market Coffee in Marrickville for skinny-lattes and piccolos. Owners Angus Nicol and Jess Hol will deliver specialty coffee and pastries to customers in their cars.

"We offer a chocolatey Honduras cold brew paired with our dulce de leche cake because the flavours go hand-in-hand," Nicol says.

The barista also hopes Black Market's $69 Father's Day special will bring more drive-through customers in.

"Everyone's dad tries to make coffee … but they aren't always very good," he says. "So the special includes a bag of beans and a barista course voucher for dads to make better coffee and latte art swans."

More drive-through specials to save on delivery fees

Brooklyn Boy Bagels 19 Carrington Road, Marrickville

Open for single-serve bagels or a "self-isolation nosh fest" to enjoy lox in your socks at home. $105 buys 20 bagels and five tubs of assorted cream cheese. Daily 7am-1:30pm; brooklynboybagels.com.au

Azuma Japanese Restaurant 2 Chifley Square, Sydney

Order online and pull up near the Chifley taxi rank on Phillip Street for friendly staff to bring your dinner to the car. The Osaka Box ($100) includes tempura prawn rolls, sushi and assorted sashimi. Thu-Sat 4pm-8pm; azuma.com.au

Gin Lane 16A Kensington Street, Chippendale

Classic cocktails such as the southside and negroni are $17 to pick up drive-through. Return your bottles for a 10 per cent discount on the next round. Wed-Sat evenings; order from the Hungry Hungry app

TachinomiYP 20 Burlington Street, Crows Nest

Japanese beers are on tap for growler refills at this Crows Nest watering hole, which also specialises in whisky, bento boxes and donburi. The super friendly team operates a drive-through service on the corner of Burlington Street and Zig Zag Lane. Daily noon-10pm; order via the @tachinomiyp Instagram account

with Callan Boys