In many conversations we’ve had recently about where you’ll go first for a drink and a chat when ‘this is all over’, the name that comes up again and again is, Gerald’s Bar, the North Carlton home-away-from-home for so many.
So, we thought we’d check-in with the man himself to see where he and his team are at.
Thanks Gerald Diffey.
1. Gerald, what was your timeline in developing a takeaway offering at Gerald’s Bar?
After shutdown we started thinking about takeaway but it raised a few issues at a time when we were occupied with our staff welfare, landlord, etc not to mention crippling anxiety. Then Jonathan Stobbs of Skinner and Hackett suggested we do cooked meals to take home sold from his shop. It’s a brilliant relationship and Jonathan wouldn’t even add a margin, he’s since extended the arrangement to include other bars, the selection is thus, wide and delicious, we are humbled by his generosity especially as we have been able to pay cooks who do not qualify for Job Keeper.
2. How do you see the industry on the other side of this; will takeaway and delivery become part of a restaurant’s business model?
I don’t know. The meals we provide now only add up to about 5% of our previous turnover so it’s not viable, restaurants need diners coming out, not staying home.
We are not geared up to be a takeaway or inclined to be caterers, I also believe people need to socialise, while we are all staying home and cooking and the industry talks about what dining will look like, I think we have overlooked something.
Chefs, of course, talk food but as a restaurateur I see our craft as being much more than feeding folk.
We provide a social service, a hub for the community to come together and break bread, drink wine and share their stories.
Social distancing does what it says on the label and that’s not healthy in the long run.
What people need is an absolute return to normal and how we achieve that is the only discussion .
3. Apart from the obvious, what’s frustrating you about the situation we’re all in at the moment?
I’m frustrated about not being able to plan or make decisions, if distancing becomes the norm all small bars are not viable, period .
4. How are you and your team here in Melbourne?
We at Gerald’s are being enthusiastic about reopening, we are painting and cleaning so that our customers will see a bright new face, a happy future and a new beginning. People need us and we need them.
Interview: May 3