When the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the on-premise industry as we once knew it, many venues began to pivot to provide a bigger takeaway and retail offering.

The Dolphin Hotel in Sydney’s Surry Hills has done this through the recent opening of The Dolphin Food + Wine Store, a retail offering within the hotel that offers a selection of wines, hot takeaway food, finish-at-home meals and local products. But Coronavirus wasn’t the only driving force behind the store’s opening. 

James Hird, Head Sommelier, said: “I have wanted to do a wine store at the Dolphin since 2016 and it’s incredibly exciting to be launching this unique collection of rare B-sides and stone-cold hits alongside the Dolphin to go menu. An all hits no misses wine line up that has taken four years to assemble.”

“COVID-19 has created some very fluid circumstances with the situation and legislation being extremely dynamic. It certainly was a catalyst for change to say the least.”

The Dolphin Food + Wine Store opened late last month with between 200 and 300 unique bottles of local, imported and natural wines, bottled spirits and cocktails. They’ve opened up the cellar, giving customers access to a wide range of special drops at affordable retail pricing. 

“With access to the entire Dolphin cellar there’s a great collection of back vintages and wines that we were holding back. The multi-award-winning cellar is a who’s who of the natural wine world without caveat,” Hird said.

“We have opened the doors, and everything is available while it lasts. Some rare birds will go fast but the depth of the cellar means the store will always be a great place to find the good juice in Surry Hills.”

Reception of the store so far has been positive, as it fits well into the customer desires in the area. 

Hird said: “It’s been great to see locals and the community embrace the food and wine store with such gusto. The feedback has been phenomenal!”

The retail side of the Dolphin stays true to the on-premise side of things, making the opening of the Food + Wine Store smooth and successful. Hird said it just made sense to expand the hotel’s offering in this way. 

“Pubs are more than ever meeting places and both food and beverage are integral to a successful offering. So the transition to retail was organic and very easy to make as the team were all across the food, wine and cocktails on offer. It’s been really great to offer such great produce to the guests in the retail format,” Hird said. 

Some big hits of the retail and takeaway menu are wines from some of the Dolphin’s favourite producers like Selose, Radikon and Gavenat, as well as pub classic food and popular dishes like the linguine with prawns and XO and herb roasted chicken cacciatore. 

The Dolphin Food + Wine Store is open now, with pick-up pre-orders also available via the Dolphin website.

Brydie Allen

Brydie Allen is the Editor of National Liquor News. She has been with Food and Beverage Media since 2019, when she joined the company as a journalist across National Liquor News, Bars & Clubs, The...

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