How Perth’s dead CBD and worker shortage hit restaurants over ‘hardest few months’ of pandemic

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How Perth’s dead CBD and worker shortage hit restaurants over ‘hardest few months’ of pandemic


“At The Royal, we’ve had 70 per cent of staff test positive in the last three weeks. We have around 100 staff members.”

The Royal thanks those still coming to work in the CBD.Credit:Claire Thomas

Despite both his city-based venues struggling, Mr Parker said his new business Dandelion, which opened just five weeks ago in Karrinyup, was flat out.

“Perth is a tale of two cities at the moment. I’m amazed how different it is in the suburbs. There is a lot of people working from home, so they are staying in their local community,” he said.

“We could sell the tables [in Karrinyup] three times over per night, but we just don’t have the resources at the moment.”

Mr Parker said he was staying optimistic that relaxed restrictions and the reopened borders would help bolster customer numbers at his CBD venues.

“This past week or so we have had a few interstate or overseas guests in the restaurant [in Perth], and that is really exciting,” he said.

George Kailis owns and operates multiple venues, including The Shorehouse, Canteen Trigg and Island Market, through Kailis Hospitality Group.

George Kailis, from Kailis Hospitality Group, helps run some of Perth’s key venues including The Shorehouse in Swanbourne.

George Kailis, from Kailis Hospitality Group, helps run some of Perth’s key venues including The Shorehouse in Swanbourne. Credit:Holly Thompson

He said these suburban-based businesses hadn’t felt the same pressures as venues in the CBD.

“Fortunately we have a bigger team as well and were able to resource from our other venues. I think it hurts smaller businesses harder,” he said.

“It is obviously still not ideal for our team, that seven to eight-day quarantine period … but we are doing just OK at the moment.”

He said the most challenging issue his businesses had faced over the past three to six months was recruiting chefs and more experienced managers.

“I think with the borders closing, we weren’t getting anyone in. Typically, there will be a bit of transition with the eastern states to Western Australia … but it’s just been one market of staff and everyone has been trying to dip into that pool,” he said.

“From a business impact perspective, it would be concerning to go backwards [to increased restrictions]. At the moment we kind of feel like we are coming out of it.

“To go back into it wouldn’t be great.”

Mr Kailis said there was a huge change in how customers were responding to COVID, compared to when it first hit WA several years ago.

“I think from the original closure two years ago, when we were all forced to close, there was a lot of fear,” he said.

“I’m sensing at the moment, particularly at our venues, people are kind of over it, they just want to go out and get on with life and enjoy themselves.”

Jochen Beranek is the executive chef at Optus Stadium.

Jochen Beranek is the executive chef at Optus Stadium.Credit:Holly Thompson

Optus Stadium’s executive chef Jochen Beranek said he was hopeful that with the borders now open he would be able to easily fill roles, but recognised the tough time businesses had been having lately.

“People start to offer more and more because they are getting into desperate situations … we just have to offer what we can,” he said.

WA Good Food Guide director Georgia Moore said attracting labour continued to be a challenge in the industry.

“Never have we had so many vacancies in the local hospitality and agriculture sectors,” she said.

“These vacancies are causing businesses to grind to a halt and even close.”

The WA Good Food Guide Website had launched a new employment platform for WA’s hospitality, producer and agriculture sectors, to help the industries attract local and interstate talent.

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Mr Parker said he had six jobs going across his venues, which have been advertised on the new website.

“We are looking for bar staff, managers, three types of chefs,” he said.

Mr Beranek said he was looking for multiple casual sous chefs to join the team to prepare for the AFL season and any other major events that now had the opportunity to come to Perth.

“It’s not very often you get sous chefs running a kitchen on a casual basis, but it is a good way for younger ones to step up,” he said.

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