Michael Bascetta is the co-owner of Fitzroy’s Bar Liberty, Capitano in Carlton, Falco Bakery in Collingwood and well as the co-founder of Worksmith.
We checked in with him a few days before restaurant restrictions eased and followed up this week to see how it’s going in the ‘slightly open’ world of dining.
I’m feeling excitement and apprehension.
I’m excited to get our teams back to work and apprehensive about all the procedures. Restaurant’s already have a million things to do, this adds to it.
A lot of customers understand the procedures but not everyone is understanding.
There will be plenty of those people who try to circumnavigate procedure and I worry about that. Front-of-house staff have to implement something that is brand new and for customers to push back against it; it puts people in tough positions.
We need customer’s to work with us. Honour your booking, call if you can’t make it, work with the restaurant, tell us your dietaries when we ask you.
We want to do everything we can to make people’s experience great and if customer’s push back, it’s worse for all of us.
I no longer feel any apprehension with both Capitano and Liberty now trading. On the most part, we have had an overwhelming response from our community since opening the doors again. Every night has been amazing capacity and our teams have jumped back on the bike (of service) really quickly.
Save for a couple of problem customers that didn’t want to follow the rules set out by the government, we have been able to implement all the procedures successfully.
2. What’s surprised you most about yourself over the last eight weeks?
In my work, I feel like that I’m the stable one, the one people can come and talk to; whereas, with something like this there’s no way anyone can always be stable and it affects everything you do. There’s too much that hits you at once and you can’t always be the rock for everyone.
For a few weeks I got really sick from the stress of what was happening.
It was something else and as it unfolded, I was asked questions that I couldn’t answer, no one could answer and I had to accept that while you don’t have the answers for everything you can still be there and not know everything. That’s ok.
3. How are you and your teams?
We’ve had plenty of peaks and troughs through the whole thing but it feels good that we’re heading back to growth.
I think the teams have had enough. We’ve shuffled people around. We’ve had great bartenders and managers from Bar Liberty serve coffee and bread at Falco. I’m not discounting Falco but they’re different skillsets and it’s difficult for anyone to transition through all these things.
And, they’re mentally exhausted.
Everyone is getting sleep and eating well but they’re mentally tired of going through this, which everyone is.
I do believe our venues are better for this. We’re learning from each other and we don’t often spend time at work together, so it’s become good for team-building.
Interview: June 10