AS LOCKDOWNS continue across Victoria, many of Ballarat's favourite restaurants have been busy at work, creating new menus and experiences for loyal diners.
Armstrong Street businesses have been riding out the coronavirus storm, and with the return this week of a combined Meigas and Pancho after almost a three-week shutdown, the restaurant precinct is up and thriving.
Lunch has become especially popular for people stuck at home most of the day with the likes of Bakehouse, Winner Winner, Forge, and Housey Housey all opening in social-distancing form, while popular Vietnamese restaurant Saigon Allee is open in the evenings.
READ MORE: Hospitality shifts a gear to remain open
Pancho and Meigas have combined to reopen out of the Pancho front window with takeaway menu combing both restaurants.
Co-owner Simone Baur-Schmid said after a near three-week shutdown the businesses were thrilled to return for it loyal customers.
"We've done a little bit of restructuring and to be honest we weren't planning to reopen, but we did have a lot of requests, we're thrilled to be able to be back in some form," she said.
Ms Baur-Schmid said pre-orders had been strong since returning, while a number of customers ordering for the weekend.
"It wasn't viable for us to open both places, but Pancho is set up to cater for takeaway with the window, so we've been fortunate to be able to set up with a little bit of social disancing," she said.
"We're doing six days, when normally we would only do five."
For restaurants and bars looking to reopen there are a number of tips that can be followed including focusing on the local community and your neighbourhood, rethink your menus and suppliers including focusing more on local producers, double-down on social media connections and also don't be afraid to ask for help, as many in the community are more willing than before to assist.
Co-founder and global head of Big 7 Travel Sarah Clayton-Lea said there is a real change in the way businesses are using social media to their benefit with a focus on locally produced stock.
"I think that there was a bit of a lack of understanding from the general consumer of what goes into running a restaurant, from sourcing supplies to deciding how to price dishes," Ms Clayton-Lea said.
"We've seen huge levels of transparency from chefs and restaurateurs about the struggles they are facing re. staff and rent costs, as well as transparency over produce costs and markups on those.
"I think this is really educating people in a new way about the hospitality business and just how important it is to support neighbourhood restaurants and local suppliers.
"The human side of restaurants on social media would be something we really suggest business owners to continue sharing after lockdown, as we've noticed customers really engaging with this and it helps to form a real loyal, and lasting, relationship between a restaurant and its customers."
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