Armstrong Street's first Greek restaurant is going strong despite opening less than a week before the state's fourth lockdown was announced.
Managed by the former head chef of North Britain Hotel, Dillon Griffin, Hellas Fest is the fourth hospitality business owners Rajinder Singh and Priya Kaur have opened in Ballarat since 2018.
"Priya and Raj saw a bit of a gap in the market with no Greek restaurants in town, and although none of us are Greek we're doing as close as possible to authentic Greek food," Mr Griffin said.
It was a rocky beginning, with the restaurant's grand opening quickly snuffed out by the announcement of Victoria's snap lockdown.
"Because everything is made fresh and we don't reheat or microwave anything, we had to throw out thousands worth of stock we ordered for opening," Mr Griffin said.
Not expecting to have to pivot to takeaway only, the restaurant didn't have online delivery services like Menulog and Uber Eats set up when the week of snap lockdown began.
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Mr Singh was pleasantly surprised by the community support that his new business received. He found some customers visiting every single day for take away gyros, even without relying on delivery apps.
"There's a few good things we can take out of this and one is that if that lockdown was not there, some people wouldn't have been able to try the takeaway," Mr Singh said.
"So far it's good for us, even without online platforms people still come for walk ins."
Despite restrictions easing for regional Victorians last Thursday, Mr Griffin says Hellas Fest are struggling with the density restrictions for indoor seated venues.
"Because of the rules we can get only get 24 people in, if they sit on tables of four. When people book for four and want to bring five we just have to say we can't fit them in because it's absolutely illegal," he said.
Mr Griffin says the business isn't eligible for any of the government's support packages, but the amount of customers he's seen return for a second or third visit in the short time since they've opened gives him hope.
"It shows me that people want to support local businesses and also that we needed something like Hellas Fest in town."
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