Ballarat hospitality venues are continuing to adapt and develop creative new ideas to continue operating throughout stage three restrictions.
For Damien Jones, chef and owner of Main Road restaurant Mr Jones, it has been more than two years of constant change since closing hatted restaurant Catfish Thai, reopening with a new focus and adapting to the pandemic.
Mr Jones said the restrictions on restaurants in response to COVID-19 had created space and time to rethink the restaurant's business model and create new avenues for revenue.
"Normally we are so busy in the restaurant, but having to do takeaway only we had some spare time available. It just gave us a good chance to look at what we were doing and what we could do," he said.
Mr Jones launched a new range of sauces earlier this month, all house made and house bottled.
It could be a bit of a restaurant boom hopefully coming out of lockdown again.Damien Jones, Mr Jones Dining
The restaurant also offers finish at home dinner packs and ran its first online cooking class this weekend, offering ingredient packs for pick up and a Zoom class on how to make curry paste from scratch.
It will soon launch a pop up wine store to support regional wineries.
"Restaurants generally have had to rethink the way they go about things and what they are doing," Mr Jones said.
"People are generally very resilient in hospitality I find. You have to be resourceful and creative to stay in the game, keep the customers engaged and keep the revenue coming in.
"When we do get out of lockdown hopefully people haven't forgotten about you just by having a presence.
"It will be interesting to see what sticks and what doesn't, but I certainly think some of the changes that have happened will stick."
Mr Jones said the general consensus in the hospitality industry was it had been tough going into lockdown for the second time, but staff were familiar with takeaway only models following the first lockdown.
"Hopefully it is this small period of time and when we come out of lockdown it will be spring and the restrictions will be eased so people can come in to restaurants again," he said.
"There will be demand there because everyone has been at home for far too long.
"It could be a bit of a restaurant boom hopefully coming out of lockdown again and Melbourne people travelling to regional Victoria when they can.
"That is something to look forward to when things get back to a bit of normality."
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Mr Jones said the restaurant will return to the set menu model when restrictions ease, almost coming full circle to Catfish Thai days.
"The pandemic for me has been particularly good. It has given us a chance to really look at what we want to do going forward," he said.
"The business model that will hopefully stick is the set menu... something people can't have at home and can't get anywhere else. I think it is a bit of a return for what we did a Catfish.
"We have done a full circle, but that is okay. I am excited about what we can do going forward with a bit of a rethink and a bit of a chance to reflect on what we really want and how we are going to get it."
Ballarat's restaurant scene will be strong when restrictions ease, with new restaurants opening during the pandemic and existing businesses creating new offerings.
"If everyone can hang in there and keep trying hard it will be okay. We just have to keep going through the lockdown and hopefully Ballarat people will support Ballarat businesses," Mr Jones said.
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