It’s no secret that Covid-19 has had a devastating impact on the hospitality industry in Australia. Whilst customers were stuck indoors during lockdowns or waiting outside while social distancing, restaurants and cafés were struggling to keep up. Consequently, customers were unable to purchase from their favourite café.
Sara Ekberg, a Doctor in Business Administration and Communication, Media and Journalism shared her insight on the importance of hospitality businesses in Brisbane culture.
“Food is the driving force of culture. It’s something that I think we come together, and we share, we share our backgrounds, our heritage through food. It’s a very important expression of our identities.” she said.
During Covid-19 lockdowns and restrictions, many hospitality businesses struggled to stay afloat.
“Most businesses shut down because their margins are already very slim… it became more tricky for them to maintain their businesses… they want to deliver that experience (personal and cuisine).” Ekberg said.
While many businesses struggled to adapt to the pandemic, one type of hospitality business thrived. Takeaway restaurants do not rely on the customer to employee interaction so, complying with event restrictions and lockdowns was not something that impacted them greatly.
According to Business of Apps, in 2019 Uber Eats had 21 million annual users, however in 2020 this number skyrocketed to 66 million annual users.
Not only did the people using the delivery option increase, but so did the number of participating restaurants. In 2019 there were 220,000 supporting restaurants this increased into 600,000 in 2020, according to Business of Apps.
One of these businesses is a small, home run cake business called ‘The Little Cupcakery’ in Brisbane’s Middle Park. It was opened in 2020 by Jackie Heffernan, the sole owner/employee of the business.
Many would presume that starting a business during Covid-19 would be wildly different than one started before.
However, when asked about her experience Heffernan responded: “It was really great. It was awesome. It was fun. It was not hard because I had the support of the government, I was in the NEIS [New Business Incentive Scheme] and they helped me to write my business plan and help me start my business and paid me a wage every fortnight, to help with the start-up costs and the running costs. So, it was excellent.”
Another business that we found that thrived during Covid-19 was Chase the Rider, a well-loved coffee shop in Jindalee.
Unlike The Little Cupcakery which started during Covid, Chase the Rider was an already existing business. It opened 2010 by Callie, Chase the Rider is mainly a takeaway business so luckily Covid’s impact on them was minimal if anything.
Callie, the owner of Chase the Rider, said of her experience during the pandemic: “It didn’t really impact us because we are more on the takeout side of things, so if anything, we kind of boomed,” she said.
However, she believed that expanding her business to Uber Eats and/or other delivery apps would, “make it (her products) more available to those who were in lockdown or things like that”.
When asked about how they would feel if the business had to close, Jenny and Leah, customers of Chase the Rider, expressed their love for this shop
“I would cry…It would have been terrible, not just for them but for everyone who went there for their morning coffee” one of them said.
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