Big groups unveil re-opening plans

28 May, 2020 by Vanessa Cavasinni

As venue restrictions continue to ease from 1 June in line with distancing measures, some of Australia’s larger groups have announced plans to re-open the majority of their venues.

While many operators – particularly of larger venues – have not found it tenable to re-open under the first stage of on-premise trading with 10 patrons, the move to 50 patrons has been welcomed by the majority of publicans who were expecting the increment to only increase to twenty patrons.

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Following on from Solotel’s announcement earlier in the week that it would be re-opening 14 of its venues throughout Sydney, Merivale and Redcape have followed suit, announcing plans to restart trading at the majority of their venues from 1 June.

“This is the best news we’ve had in months, and marks the real beginning to hospitality’s road to recovery,” stated Merivale CEO Justin Hemmes.

“I would like to commend the government who not only acted swiftly to protect our country, but who are now also doing everything they can to help us safely reopen doors and rebuild the industry. Whilst we are still a little while away from operating all our venues at full capacity, the increase to 50 customers is a huge leap forward and one that will result in an exponential increase in employment”.

Merivale will stagger the re-opening of its venues over a week from 1 June, with The Allawah, Angle Hotel, Hotel CBD, The Newport, The Royal Bondi, Vic on the Park and Tennyson Hotel among the first of it’s venues to re-open on Monday. The ground floor of Coogee Pavilion has already begun trading to 10 people at a time. Reservations for all venues are now open.

“Thank you, as always, to our incredible staff and loyal guests for their patience, support and unwavering optimism that things would get better. They finally have,” concluded Hemmes.

Dan Brady, CEO of Redcape, also announced the re-opening of the majority of its venues, and thanked the New South Wales for its phase two policy, stating that it is “both viable, and presents the ability to provide an enhanced customer experience through this new operating model.”

Redcape has used the shutdown period as a time to rebuild many elements of its business, and accelerate many projects that have been placed on the backburner for years. Brady believes this has put the group in the best position to re-engage with its patrons.

“Our data-driven platform has allowed us to remain digitally connected to our customers, researching and measuring sentiment during COVID-19, and will enable an acceleration of customer win-back and alignment to community as we continue to pursue or vision of enriching communities through our hospitality.”

AVC re-opening in Victoria

Meanwhile, Australian Venue Co — which had already started re-opening venues in other states — has today announced it will be re-opening most of its Victorian venues on 1 June.

As the venues re-open, there will be an increased focus on safety for customers and the teams with new safe socialising standards,  and contact tracing will be enabled by a simple online sign-in form via QR code when entering the venue.

“While the team will still welcome guests with a warm smile and friendly hello, we’ve created some new ‘contactless’ measures that help us to comply with Government restrictions and guarantee our customers a safe and enjoyable experience at our venues,” said Paul Waterson, Australian Venue Co. CEO.

“Our Victorian based venues are proud to pioneer this new, safe socialising experience for our customers. We are determined to not let a bit of distance stand in the way of creating a memorable customer experience.

The re-opening of Victorian venues will see more than 600 AVC staff return to work.

“The last couple of months have been catastrophic for the hospitality industry but we are proud to be part of an industry which has proved itself to be resilient, supportive and as hard working as ever at this difficult time.”