The past couple of weeks have been rough for everyone, but hospitality is probably one of the worst hit industries, with the government’s shutdown of non-essential businesses leaving thousands of people jobless and with uncertain futures. But there are a handful of venue operators who want to help out where they can.
Darlinghurst’s Italian eatery Sagra isn’t sure how long it will be able to remain open, but it’s making free takeaway meals for anyone who needs them until it can’t any longer. “We are not seeking to make any money from this service for this week, we just don’t want to waste food,” it said via Instagram. “Our preferred recipients are casual workers or those who have found themselves unemployed because of the pandemic. If, however, you are in a financial position to pay and would like to offer a gold coin or small note, we will use that to buy more stock and maybe be able to continue it for longer.”
It’s open from 5.30pm to 8.30pm tonight and is making a number of pasta dishes, including a duck-and-porcini ragu with pappardelle, and one of the world’s most comforting dishes: spaghetti cacio e pepe.
Both venues will have limited menus featuring burgers and tacos that hospo workers can order from, with vegan and vegetarian options. It works on an honesty system: show your RSA certificate if you’re a bartender or let staff know where you work and they’ll hook you up with one meal per day.
Out east, Bondi’s Panama House has a similar idea. The Latin American restaurant now does meal kits for struggling hospitality workers free of charge from Tuesday to Saturday, with pick up between 9pm and 10pm. At sister venue Isabel Bondi, hospo staff can get free ramen and gyoza, with specials announced on Instagram daily. DM or phone 1800 411 774, with pick up between 4.30pm and 5.30pm.
And there’s more giving at Newtown’s Hearth and Soul. Rachel Jelley closed her eatery in November to pursue other cooking opportunities, but has re-opened to serve free meals to anyone who has suffered job or revenue losses due to Covid-19.
The first meal service is on Friday March 27, from 12pm to 2pm, with more to be announced soon (you need to register via the website so Jelley can ensure there’s enough food). If you are feeling helpless and want to support the initiative, she’s also got a Go Fund Me page to help keep the service going. At time of publishing, she had raised $725 but is aiming to hit $10,000. She’s also looking for volunteers to join her in the kitchen – email your expression of interest to firstname.lastname@example.org.