Food News

How a top-end restaurant is shifting to takeaway and home-delivery to survive the impact of coronavirus

Restaurant Labart hopes the new business model will ensure workers and hungry customers are looked after.
The façade of Restaurant Labart, Burleigh Heads

The façade of Restaurant Labart

Andy Macpherson (interiors)

One Queensland restaurant has taken the extraordinary step of closing their dine-in business and operating exclusively on food-delivery and takeaway trade in the wake of mounting community concerns surrounding the spread of COVID-19.

Today, restaurant Labart in Burleigh Heads announced the temporary closure of their dining room as a precautionary measure in light of the global pandemic.

“People might think we are being alarmist, but we made the decision to be proactive,” says co-owner Karla Munoz Labart. “We could have stayed open and traded for another couple of weeks […] but restaurants are closing around the world. It doesn’t feel right for us to be encouraging people to be out and socialising. The question then becomes: how can we still feed people, but not in a social setting?”

Labart typically operates as a fine-dining restaurant. From Friday, the kitchen will be cooking home-style meals for diners to order takeaway, or to be delivered at home. “We want to nourish people in a time when the world needs it the most,” said chef and co-owner Alex Munoz Labart in a statement. “Dishes will be rustic, comfort food as we head into the winter months.” The menu will change daily but could include coq au vin; pork, chickpea and pumpkin casserole; and minestrone soup, with dishes priced between $20 to $30.

Karla and Alex Munoz Labart.

Additionally, dishes will be served in biodegradable, recyclable packaging. Karla acknowledges many cafes have stopped accepting reusable coffee cups as part of their heightened sanitary measures; she’s determined the restaurant’s new business model is still as environmentally sustainable as possible.

The shift to a takeaway and home-delivery model also ensures restaurant staff remain employed. The majority of Labart workers are on full-time salaries; the few casual workers who work front-of-house will be employed as part of their in-house delivery service.

“Third-party delivery services like Deliveroo and Uber Eats take a big percentage from a restaurant’s order,” says Karla, estimating they receive up to a 30 per cent cut of a customer’s order. “But our staff are like family – they’re all locals with cars. Instead of working on the floor, they’ll be delivering to the door.”

Despite these measures, the restaurant is anticipating a hit to their bottom line. “For sure, this is not going to be as financially viable as running a fine-dining restaurant,” says Karla, adding the ability to adapt and be agile in the face of daily changing circumstances is essential to the survival of the restaurant industry. “We really encourage other restaurants on board,” she says. “We hope others will see this is a good idea in order to get through the next few weeks and months.”

Labart at Home

From Friday March 20

Open Wednesday to Sunday

8 West St, Burleigh Heads, Qld, (07) 5576 3498

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