Barooga Hotel doing well despite the pandemic

By Madi Chwasta

Barooga Hotel's takeaway and home delivery service has gone "ballistic", with management needing to hire more staff as a result.

Barooga Hotel co-owner Glenn Gardiner said the hotel had operated a takeaway as well as a dine-in service for the past two years, and was preparing the same amount of meals now as before the pandemic.

“We're doing the same now as dine-in and takeaway combined previously,” he said.

“At the moment that's about 1000 mains a week.”

He said the hotel was now running four delivery cars, and had to hire two staff members to operate the phones.

Mr Gardiner said the hotel's 14 current staff members were on JobKeeper, and were paid more if they worked longer hours.

He credits the hotel's current booming business as being due to already having an established takeaway and home delivery service before the pandemic began.

The Barooga Hotel started home deliveries about two years ago, purchasing a separate kitchen in Cobram to complete those orders.

“The hotel is very popular for meals, and we couldn't do home deliveries out of the same kitchen that we were doing dine-in,” Mr Gardiner said.

“But we've moved them back to the bigger kitchen at the hotel, because they've gone ballistic.

“(Home delivery) was always going to happen in the regional areas, and we'd rather be in front of the eight-ball.

“You can’t just rely on meals and grog — you’ve got to have different arms to a business for it to be successful.”

The hotel will soon branch out into oven-ready and microwave-ready meals, which will be available in the coming weeks.

Despite some COVID-19 restrictions being relaxed, Mr Gardiner said the hotel would continue only doing takeaways until it was allowed to serve more people in the restaurant.

“Two sittings of 25 makes it viable, but two sittings of 10 is not viable, as well as doing the home deliveries,” he said.

Mr Gardiner said he was looking forward to opening up when possible.

“We've got a really regular clientele, and we get to know them really well,” he said.

“That's the main thing — you miss that interaction with them.”