Venues put renovations on menu during virus closure

 

HEADACHES, heartbreak and a whole lot of pain is what the coronavirus pandemic had in store for a devastated hospitality industry, but it has provided one gift as well.

That is almost three months of downtime, which Far Northern venues have made the most of after being forced to shut or slow down their operations.

The time off has allowed typically time-poor business owners to refresh and renovate their venues without the stress of competing for business or paying for after-hours work.

Conservatory Bar owners Ross Stevens and Sam Fuller are just one of many venue operators who have used the lockdown downtime to make long-awaited renovations and updates. PICTURE: STEWART McLEAN
Conservatory Bar owners Ross Stevens and Sam Fuller are just one of many venue operators who have used the lockdown downtime to make long-awaited renovations and updates. PICTURE: STEWART McLEAN

Conservatory Bar owner Ross Stevens in Lake St has spent about $15,000 to completely change the theme from a "trending cocktail bar" to an "old-school wine bar".

"I didn't need to make the changes, I inherited quite a successful business," he said.

"But I've always wanted a wine bar and to make all these changes - new furniture, new uniforms, we've added in a walk-in wine cellar. They would have been impossible to do if we weren't closed for three months.

"It's really hard in hospitality because you can't afford to be closed for too long.

"It always has to be on the go.

Edge Hill Memorial Bowls Club manager Lawrence Green. PICTURE: BRENDAN RADKE
Edge Hill Memorial Bowls Club manager Lawrence Green. PICTURE: BRENDAN RADKE

"So the time off has been good because I know people have been able to think about the changes they want to make, otherwise it can be a gamble. Now they've had time to think about the standout features that set them apart."

The Edge Hill Bowls Club underwent about $20,000 worth of work.

Club manager Lawrence Green said the interior had received a full facelift with an updated bar and bistro, fresh paint, wallpaper and a clean-out of the kitchen.

"We had the time so we took the opportunity and it didn't cost as much because normally you would have to get the work done after hours. Well, we had it all done nine to five," he said.

Pacifico owner Troy Birmingham said he'd used the time for painting and cleaning, but warned Cairns locals to potentially expect some unwanted changes at their favourite venues.

"I know menus are changing and that's because of the rules," he said.

Pacifico owner Troy Birmingham. PICTURE: BRENDAN RADKE
Pacifico owner Troy Birmingham. PICTURE: BRENDAN RADKE

"Obviously we can't do share platters anymore, that's hygiene. But another problem is the demand.

"Talking to mates in the industry, it's been busy and then dead, and so they're throwing out a lot of food. They can't keep doing that and they'll change their menus.

"It'll take a while for things to get back to normal, but Cairns won't recover until we have airlines back, not just from down south, but also overseas."

LNP leader Deb Frecklington again weighed in on the border debate.

LNP Leader Deb Frecklington. Picture Glenn Hampson
LNP Leader Deb Frecklington. Picture Glenn Hampson

She said Tourism and Events Queensland data showed almost three out of four interstate visitors to the Far North were from NSW and Victoria and the closure was crippling Cairns.

"Local jobs rely on more than 500,000 tourists from NSW and Victoria flying north to Cairns every year and spending in the community," she said.

"Interstate tourists pump more than $1.4 billion into the Far North every year.

"Visitors from NSW and Victoria are critical for Cairns and local jobs.

"The LNP understands that businesses and visitors need certainty and so we support reopening our border to all Australians in July."

Originally published as Venues put renovations on menu during virus closure


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