Several pub operators are pitching in to help boost morale and maintain a connection with their employees, and in some cases the wider industry, as staff struggle with extended lockdowns.

Iris Capital has been packing care packages containing and food and household items for its staff in a plan devised by CEO Sam Arnaout’s wife Christie and put into action with the help of MD Providores and White Key Marketing.

“We decided we wanted to do something for our staff to help them get by and help them through what is a tough time,” said the group’s COO Paul Devine.

In a message to staff, CEO Sam Arnaout said: “We are thinking of our team during this enforced shut down. We appreciate their work and loyalty, and we hope to be together again soon. Stay safe and healthy.”

Solotel is also supporting its staff by offering them the choice to either use $100 at three of its venues that are selling takeaway options, or to sign up to receive a food box to the value of $100.

“We offer this to staff each fortnight as a small sign of support during these tough times,” said marketing director Robert Squillacioti.

AVC’s Meals for Hospo Mates initiative was launched during last year’s lockdown to supply free meals to the hospitality sector. AVC has reignited the program in Sydney where it prepares around 3000 meals for anyone in the industry who needs them – AVC employees or other jobless hospitality staff. The meals are distributed at King Street Wharf every Thursday.

Applejack Hospitality has also been giving back with its chefs and Applejack volunteers cooking up and delivering over 200 care packages across Sydney to all of its staff. The packs were filled with a number of items including DIY barramundi and pork tacos, warm donuts and fresh salads.

Odd Culture’s Oxford Tavern is selling T-Shirts online for pick up and delivery, with all profits going directly to its hospo staff who have lost work during the lockdown in the form of grocery packs. The group is also offering a free meal and drink to hospitality workers more broadly.

Maintaining a connection with staff is also important in an industry suffering skills shortages. Laundy Hotels is, among other things, conducting weekly Zoom cooking classes for its staff. These are held by its group executive chef, Jamie Gannon and have been a huge success, according to GM Nick Tindall, with dozens tuning in each week. 

Hunt Hospitality also has a ‘Cook from Home’ initiative which sees its chefs provide a cooking tutorial online to enable staff to make restaurant quality food at home. The group also offers $5 community dinners to give back to those in need.

During the Queensland lockdown, ALH Group put its chefs to good use in the FareShare kitchen supporting those in the need in the community as the charity kitchen had been left without its volunteer workforce due to the restrictions.

Likewise, Aussie shift scheduling platform Deputy has teamed up with PlateitForward and Mirvac to deliver 100,000 meals to Sydney’s casual, migrant and minority group shift workers unable to work during the extended lockdown. 

The “Gift A Shift” partnership is calling on salaried workers to support these workers by donating the equivalent of one day’s pay to help deliver meals to those doing it tough.

“At Deputy, we feel a strong sense of responsibility to assist the shift workers and families most seriously impacted by this current lockdown,” said Ashik Ahmed, CEO, CTO and co-founder of Deputy.

“These people are our baristas, shop assistants, hairdressers, chefs, cleaners, customer service staff – the essential workers that have kept our cities operating through the pandemic and we owe them this kindness as we rebuild.” 

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