As the coronavirus continues its impact on small businesses around Australia, the hospitality industry is suffering but rising to the new challenges. We’re exploring how Kaddy’s supplier partners and customers are adapting and coping within this stressful economic climate. This week we spoke with Laura Gallen, Bar Manager at Wings X Tins in Sydney.
When the spread of coronavirus first became apparent, both Wings X Tins locations in Darlinghurst and Dee Why did what everyone else had to do - step up hygiene and pay extra attention to sanitising practices. But things deepened from there quite quickly. “The first restrictions were limiting the amount of customers in the venue, so we had a strict maximum 20-patron rule that we were able to follow for a few nights,” Laura says.
But just as the Wings X Tins teams adapted to that new measure, it changed again. “Very quickly, it turned into just doing takeaways and home deliveries so that was the biggest adjustment. Obviously takeaways before were such a small percentage of our sales but now, it’s all we have.”
Laura says the lockdown measures mean the demand for home takeaways are different across their two venues, so they’ve adapted their menu to suit. “We’re getting a lot more families in Dee Why having big takeaway nights. Darlinghurst is a younger crowd, we get a lot of young professionals, so we’re getting people just ordering food for themselves or for them and their partner, whereas Dee Why has a much more family-oriented clientele. They’re getting bigger orders so we adapted to that by doing a family deal. So we have a Dinner For 2 option or a Dinner For 4 option.”
Gallen says the Wings X Tins team have made it their mission to be enthusiastic and creative in their approach to dealing with the new issues. Drive through wings and craft beer pickup? Yes! “We wanted to make it seem like an actual good way to spend your Friday night while you’re in isolation! Make takeaway a bit of fun!”
As well as being a fun idea that customers can enjoy, the drive through obviously serves as an essential social distancing measure. “People can order on the phone and then drive past the door 20 minutes to half an hour later. We bring the food out to them and they literally just pay from the car. It’s completely contactless.”
“There’s all these little incentives to come down to us so we’ve actually been doing really well,” Laura says positively. “We have huge support from a lot of our regular customers, the community, people supporting local, that sort of thing. That’s been a huge help to us. Obviously things have been a lot quieter than they were pre-Corona, but we’re just trying to be creative in different ways that we can to keep going until it blows over.”
Wings X Tins find Facebook and Instagram the most effective ways to communicate quickly with their customers, and in this climate where things have been changing so quickly, that has proved to be essential for their success.
“If you go about making some different kind of marketing, by the time it gets out there, things might have changed again,” Gallen explains. “So we’re very much taking things day by day.”
“Instagram Stories is especially one of the fastest ways to get it out there. We’re really lucky that our demographic - it's the younger generation, it’s people in their 20’s and 30’s - use Instagram and watch Stories so it’s very easy to get the advertising out there quickly. Macca [co-founder Anthony Macfarlane] is the genius behind all of our marketing. Appealing posts, Instagram stories, promotions we’ve been doing. ”
Although Wings X Tins is doing their best to thrive, staff cuts have been inevitable. “We’re just working with a skeleton staff - just owners, managers and a few chefs. We had to let go all of our casual staff - bartenders, floor staff and a few kitchen staff.”
Laura notes that some of her employees are amongst those being left out in the cold by the government's restrictions on eligibility for the JobKeeper package. “We really have tried to keep as many as we can, especially the people on more precarious visas,” she says. “A lot of our kitchen staff are on student visas, so we’ve tried to keep a chunk of those even though it’s just down to a part-time basis now.”