Hospitality businesses are looking to diversify their offerings in an attempt to stay afloat during the coronavirus pandemic.
Dwindling customer numbers due to virus fears has already been a massive blow to businesses, with some forced to tell casual staff they will be out of work.
Now strict social distancing measures requiring a four square metres per person rule will limit the number of customers in restaurants and bars to an unviable level for smaller venues.
Freight Bar and Restaurant owner Chris Sargent said he was lucky his hotel was large and had separate areas, meaning each booking could have their own dining space this weekend.
We hope we can operate and still have work for our staff and we're hoping there will be business to come back to.Chris Sargant, Freight Bar and Restaurant
He said he was working to diversify the hotel's offerings in an effort to keep staff in jobs and the business afloat.
Freight is now offering an eat later/ freezer meals service, with 10 per cent off the price to all emergency service workers and delivery available.
"I am very nervous about what is going to happen," Mr Sargent said.
"I expect there are a few more changes to come. We hope we can operate and still have work for our staff and we're hoping there will be business to come back to.
"I have been trying to go to the supermarket myself and can't get food. Our suppliers are still on board, so this is a chance for us to do the preparation, get people out of supermarkets and provide them with a healthy meal.
"I have spoken to emergency workers and they say they try to go to the supermarket when they finish their shift and there is nothing left."
Mr Sargent said front of house and bar staff would also work as delivery drivers, so if a time came when the restaurant had to close to the public, they would hopefully still be in work.
Lola at the Provincial Hotel is offering customers their full menu via their pick up social distancing side window, with 20 per cent off the menu price.
Owner Simon Coghlan said like everyone, the business was following the recommendations day by day and assessing how they could operate.
He said social distancing rules would halve the restaurant's capacity to around 27 people.
"We are making these changes in an attempt to keep our staff working for as long as possible," Mr Coghlan said.
"Necessity is the mother of invention and that is what we are working on.
"We know people still have to eat and will probably get sick of eating their own cooking because they generally like to go out. This way people can feel like they can change their routine without putting themselves at risk."
Hydrant Food Hall stepped up their hygiene procedures and began scanning every visitor's temperature from Thursday.
"During these unprecedented times, we are doing everything within our power to continue serving our valued customers," she said.
"The health and safety of our staff and customers is at the forefront, so we are taking measures to ensure that our customers feel confidence to continue dining with us and enjoy the food and coffee we are known for."
John Harris from Mitchell Harris Wines said he was sad to have had to let go of some of their casual staff, but the team was working to 'reinvent' themselves to the new working conditions.
"We are not expecting to make a heap in the way of profit. We are just trying to maintain our wonderful staff who have been loyal to us and be busy enough to survive," he said.
Mr Harris said the team were ramping up take aways and deliveries, with special deliveries of 'wine rescue packages' and he was thinking about ways to live stream tasting dinners where people could share wine and a meal together online from the comfort of their home.
"It is a real challenge, we are almost reinventing ourselves and are back in start up mode now," he said.
"We are looking at innovative ways we can still engage with our community and guests that have been coming to the bar for the past seven years. We are planning on staying open for as long as we can and as long as it is viable to do so.
"We are also winemakers in the middle of harvest and we have had to have some difficult conversations with growers not knowing if we will be able to buy their fruit.
"We have just had to stop spending money. We don't know what income we will have over the coming months."
Mr Harris said he needed more reassurance from government on the future and methods of assistance.
"We are not hearing enough from them as to how they can assist us and there are conflicting stories as well going around as to what is going to happen," he said.
The Victorian government launched a hotline for businesses dealing with challenges posed by the coronavirus outbreak on Thursday.
Businesses can access information including support services and how to access financial support, by calling 13 22 15.
Learmonth's Cafe Sidra owner Anthony Penhall said the number of customers coming through the door the past few days was not sustainable and the business would rely on the community to support a new cafe model.
"We are going down the line of take aways so we can service families in the area with good, wholesome food. That model with hopefully enable us to continue trading," he said.
In Daylesford, new restaurant Beppe opened for the first time on Thursday night and co-owner Samantha Mackley said she was feeling 'dreadful'.
"We are going ahead with our plans as much as we can following the government rules put in place," she said.
"It will mean we can't run the business the way we intended and will have to switch to a take away and limited dine in option. At most we could probably fit around 25 people in our restaurant so that won't survive.
"In a town like Daylesford, it is very social and the community around both of our businesses (Cliffy's Emporium and Beppe) are social people - they dine out a lot, they support local businesses a lot and it will be terrible for them as well because they won't have those places to go and connect."
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Ms Mackley said the opening night went well, with good community support.
"People said they loved the restaurant, the food and the service, but they feel sorry for us and they think it is such a shame that it is happening," she said.
"The Daylesford community always comes together when we need them to. We did a fundraiser on Christmas Day last year raising money for the local CFA and the support received for that was really overwhelming.
"It is times like this we really need the community to band together again and support our local businesses. We need every business to keep going otherwise the unemployment rate will get worse."
Mr Harris called out to residents to support small businesses.
"We employ a lot of local people and every cent you spend with us really goes a long way, so when this is over Ballarat isn't a ghost town and we have these businesses that can fire back up.
"There is a lot of people who are doing it really tough. Just support all your small local businesses, that is the message we want to get out there."
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