In a matter of days, Adelaide’s hospitality industry has been brought to its knees. Escalating government efforts to mitigate the spread of Covid-19 have shut down bars and pubs across the city, while restaurants and cafes can trade for takeaway and delivery only. But it’s a little trickier to move alcohol.
In South Australia, venues need a direct sales licence – distinct from a restaurant liquor licence – to deliver booze (editor's note: SA's liquor licensing laws have since been relaxed to help venues continue operating). It was a stroke of good fortune for Oliver Brown – owner of Big Easy Group venues Nola, Anchovy Bandit, Yiasou George and The Stag Public House – that he had one of those licences sitting idle, thanks to The Stag.
“We were pretty lucky,” says Brown. “Because we had the ability to do it already, we were able to turn it around so quickly.”
His new project, Big Easy Drinks, offers same-day delivery of local beer, wine and spirits within metropolitan Adelaide for orders placed before 2pm. The drinks are curated by Brown and bartenders at his respective venues, and there’s a focus on low-intervention wines. Brown’s personal favourites include the Nickle Pack (four bottles of wine for $120) and a $35 chardonnay from Bink. Cocktail packs are on their way, too.
Brown intends for Big Easy Drinks to go national. “It was really important for us to continue working with our suppliers. In times like these, it’s more important to support local than ever… So we’ll hopefully be providing some local producers access to a broader market,” he says. “People like Never Never, we’re quite close to, so being able to send their stuff nationally is amazing.”
The ultimate goal, though, is to create new jobs to replace the ones lost over the past few days. Brown had employed about 80 people across his four venues – the only venue that escaped somewhat unscathed was Anchovy Bandit, thanks to pizza deliveries.
“If we can employ even two people that’s a win for us, after having to say goodbye to so many,” says Brown. “We’re not just going to sit down and take it. We’re going to keep kicking and screaming, and do our best to keep our staff employed.”
Check out Big Easy Drinks here.