Victorian hospitality businesses have been hit hard once again by the State Government’s announcement of a return to Stage 3 restrictions, which came into place on Tuesday, but a Melbourne teahouse is fighting the hit by pivoting to a bakery for lockdown take two.
Beasley’s Teahouse in the Melbourne suburb of Doncaster is one business severely impacted by COVID – until a clever plan to transform the teahouse, which serves traditional café-style food into a popup bakery came about.
Pastry chef and product developer Rod Shokuhi came up with the plan to help owners Bill and Marie Beasley keep their decades-old business ticking over through this hurdle.
“I was at Beasley’s as soon as I qualified as a chef, and I was there for about five years,” Rod said.
“So the Beasleys have always had a really close place in my heart and have been family friends ever since. “
After hearing the lockdown announcement, Rod contacted Bill and Marie to see how they were coping, and realised he could help.
“I knew the first time they went through this, all of their staff didn’t have any shifts except for three that were on JobKeeper, and even then they were being stretched because no small business has a lot of capital lying around,” he said.
“Coming from a bakery background I thought it’s a perfect opportunity to turn it into a pop up bakery some days of the week or all days of the week.
“I wanted to make sure the income; the revenue was still coming into that business. I wanted to make sure they could survive – not just survive, but thrive.”
Rod stayed up until the early hours brainstorming and running through all the pros and cons before pitching his idea to the Beasleys, who were all for it – as were the customers who were surveyed to see if the idea would float.
“I put the feelers out and set to work on outsourcing the help I couldn’t get access to and looking within the business to see what resources we did have,” Rod said.
“Dan Andrews gave us such short notice that everyone in hospitality was in the same boat where Friday came, they used up all their stock, placed their orders for Monday, Monday all the stock came, got prepped, then Tuesday the news was announced and Wednesday they got shut down.
“So everyone’s got all these cool rooms full of stock, and it’s just money sitting there and it was going to be like, $6000 worth of stock just gone.
“I got the chefs to do a full stocktake of everything, ‘forget the menu you’ve got, lets make a bakery menu based on what we have.’
For the next six weeks on Fridays to Sundays, Beasley’s Teahouse will be operating as a bakery.
“We’ll be doing house made sourdoughs, croissants, Kouign-amann, doughnuts… we’ve got dinner boxes we’ll be doing, like cheat-day, movie night, high tea,” Rod said.
“We’re going to town on it!”
Rod said he was thrilled at the support everyone has thrown behind the idea, including
“It’s been unanimous,” he said of the response to the bakery proposal.
“So we’ve got to make this happen now!”
Supporters of the proposal include V-ZUG, who have donated and installed two convection ovens to Beasley’s.
“Everyone’s helping. Everyone’s just so supportive right now, which is phenomenal.”