We checked in with Andrew Joy (right in picture with business partner Travis Howe ), co-owner of Carlton Wine Room. He and his business partners made a swift decision to close their popular Drummond Street venue when lockdown first kicked in and stay on their own path.
They’ve reopened with a fresh perspective and Andrew has an even greater love for what he does.
1. How have you managed the lockdown and slow easing of restrictions?
When the lockdown happened in March, the decision to close was a quick conversation between the owners. We didn’t want to do anything else; takeaway and delivery was not something that appealed to us.
We do in-house hospitality, that’s who we are.
To close like that was very hard initially, the first week I didn’t know how to feel. As business owners we do tend to want to be in control and to have that taken away changes your perspective.
So, I ended up at the vineyard [Andrew’s family vineyard in the Pyrenees] in a tent, literally.
It was a beautiful place to be and I occupied myself with the tail-end of vintage and digging trenches.
We reopened in Carlton on June 1, as soon as we could. We have five levels in the venue and can have a total of 62 people at one time across those levels. It’s been great so far.
2 What have you learned about yourself?
In an odd way, I’ve learned a better self respect.
As business owners – and this is common in hospitality – we put ourselves last and it’s not good. We say yes to everything and with isolation, I had time to sit back and reflect.
I want to take each day as it comes much more than I did and not worry about the future so much.
I definitely gained a greater respect for what we do as hospitality operators. It really is unique to do what we do. So, I’m thankful to be back, it makes me so happy.
3. How are you and your team?
I’m really well. The team is amazing.
It feels like we’re stronger, the staff have done an incredible job to get through it and we’re staying positive.
If a staff member is having a hard time, we sit down and talk, have one-on-one counselling. I think not removing yourself from that level of discussion is important. We need to show vulnerability and support our staff, no one is spared from what’s going on.