But despite the challenges of operating with a 20-person cap, many venues have decided to open and seat dine-in (masked, socially distanced) guests or temporarily introduce takeaway. Some operators say they’re doing it to service their community. Others say it’s about ensuring casual staff have shifts, and some venues are staying closed but employing staff to clean. All deserve our support.
This snap lockdown caught a lot of people by surprise, not least hospitality venues and other small businesses gearing up for a busy, lucrative long weekend. In less than 96 hours, business owners have had to continually adjust their kicking while aiming for goal posts that refused to stay still. So when you’re visiting the below (or anywhere at any time), be kind – a little bit of understanding will go a long way.
Here is what some of our favourite venues are doing right now.
The Humble Onion
Caitlin Johnson and Chris Howard’s CBD cafe in the former Greenhouse space is moving to takeaway-only and will be offering specials including smoked leg ham and hot chicken on Howard’s pillowy house focaccia.
This much-loved Subiaco cafe will temporarily open from 7am to 2pm to ensure regulars don’t have to go without its popular souffra, spanakopita and other Greek favourites.
Until the end of Friday night, this Japanese dessert bar will be selling its cloud-like Japanese souffle pancakes at the special takeaway-only price of $10. This special will be available after 7pm nightly.
Until Saturday, a 90-minute seating limit applies to all bookings, while sandwiches, charcuterie, baked goods and other Ethos items will be available for takeaway. Ethos is also offering private dining for a single group of between 10 and 16 guests on Thursday or Friday night.
Thai dynamo Dee Tongdee is a warm, smiling presence at Long Chim’s Tuck Shop. Expect big things when she takes over the Long Chim bar and courtyard this week serving the tuck shop’s menu of fiery som tum, grilled chicken and other Thai favourites. (Long Chim’s main dining room will remain closed; Long Chim Tuck Shop will remain open for takeaway).
La Madonna Nera
This Mount Hawthorn wine bar is switching to a $55 five-course osteria-style set menu this week to maximise its restricted capacity. Guests can book for either a 6pm or 8pm seating.
This week sees the return of Little Lalla in Lalla Rookh’s airy lounge with a slightly smaller menu (there will be no pizza, alas). Bookings available. The wine store, meanwhile, reopens from Thursday and will be able to seat 12 guests. No online bookings will be available for the wine store.
Until Friday, the Subiaco eating house is moving to a set menu-only format for lunch and dinner. Choose from a three-course lunch for $48 per person or a five-course menu for $63 per person.
Big Rigz Burger Co
The burger czars of South Fremantle ramp up their takeaway game while restricting dine-in numbers.
Until Friday, Shorehouse moves to lunch and dinner service only and will be suspending takeaway. Services will be limited to a 90-minute sitting and guests will be offered the Taste of Shorehouse menu.
Remember your mask. Wear it when you’re not eating and drinking and don’t take it personally if staff ask you to wear one: they’re looking out for you and the rest of us, and they have a right to be safe at work.
While booking is always a good idea, it seems pretty much mandatory now. Remember: all those empty tables you can see in a dining room aren’t actually empty, they’re waiting to be populated by people who have booked. (Bonus: venues such as champion Wembley small bar Mummucc that don’t usually take bookings are, for now, letting guests make reservations. I implore you to take advantage of this). Don’t do a no-show – now or ever.
On the topic of bookings, be prepared to be flexible. Be flexible in terms of the time you dine (expect to dine earlier or later than you might want to). Be flexible in your seating time. (Venues need to maximise the number of guests they can serve as well as their earning potential). Be flexible with your ordering. (Count on seeing smaller menus or set menus).
Now isn’t the time for negative Trip Advisor and Google Reviews. If you’re in a position to, consider tipping staff, delivery people, and taxi and rideshare drivers.
With any luck, the current set of restrictions will be short-lived and after Saturday this week, we might be able to move, eat and drink a little more freely.