For the rest of lockdown, Lucas Restaurants is making it easier for Melburnians to order takeaway from its most popular restaurants via its new delivery service and an expanded delivery zone.

Southeast Asian-inspired institution Chin Chin and refined Japanese diner Kisumé, both based in the CBD, as well as Windsor’s Malaysia and Singapore-style food hall, Hawker Hall, are now delivering up to 10 kilometres – including from the Chin Chin and Kisumé pop-ups in Richmond. Baby, the group’s fun pizza spot, which is also in Richmond, is delivering up to four kilometres.

“Everyone who orders any takeaway from a restaurant is saving jobs and saving venues,” says Chris Lucas, the restaurateur behind the hospitality group, which operates in Melbourne and Sydney. “We’re going to need to save every job that we can. And we’re going to need to rebuild these jobs in the future. Every order counts.”

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So, what does he recommend? At Hawker Hall, the Malaysian coconut beef rendang. From Chin Chin, the braised Wagyu beef pad seuw or barramundi-and-ginger dumplings with XO sauce. And he can’t go past Baby’s chicken cotoletta, or Kisumé’s deluxe sushi box.

“I’ve ordered all those, of course,” says Lucas. “We’ve been ordering a lot of takeaway from our venues and others, even though in a normal world we would never really eat in.”

Many of the restaurants are also bottling cocktails. Order Chin Chin’s Soju Bomb made with tequila, South Korean soju, cherry liqueur and elderflower cordial; Hawker Hall’s Pineapple Penicillin with spiced rum, smoky whisky, pineapple and ginger ale; or a Japanese Negroni from Kisumé.

Lucas notes the quality of Melbourne’s takeaway options has lifted with many formerly dine-in-only restaurants now doing pick-up and delivery.

“Normally chefs are in the middle of normal service, trying to fit takeaway orders while running a restaurant, which can compromise the food,” he says. “Now it’s the main focus.”

Delivery isn’t a long-term strategy for Lucas Restaurants. But the group wanted to set up its own platform, which is run by Doordash, to avoid having to pay large commissions or charge customers high delivery fees to use bigger food-delivery players. It’s also a way to keep on international staff who’ve missed out on government support.

“In a perfect world, we’d prefer to get back to doing what we’re good at and what we’re set up to do – which is offer amazing dining experiences,” says Lucas.

“There is going to be an end to this, and we have to make sure we come out as energised as possible. We’re going to need that energy and those positive thoughts to rebuild, because that process will take time.”

Chin Chin Melbourne, Chin Chin Richmond, Baby Pizza, Hawker Hall, Kisumé CBD and Kisumé Richmond are now available on Room Service. Delivery is a flat fee of $7.50 and operating hours vary between restaurants.