As Victoria weathers its second lockdown, the combined economic impact of COVID-19 and the summer's bushfires is staggering. The estimated loss of visitor expenditure for 2020 is pegged at $23.3 billion, with $7.9 billion of that loss in regional Victoria.
Helplessness is one feeling, but those who are lucky enough to have a disposable income can support Victoria's beleaguered food and beverage industry in the best way possible – by splashing some much-needed cash.
Visit Victoria, the state's official travel body, has launched Click for Vic, an online directory for customers to support the many restaurants, cafés, bars, producers and growers doing it tough right now.
The "dine at home" category lists 50 restaurants from across Melbourne where diners can order pick-up or home-delivered meals from Mabu Mabu in Yarraville, Mexican eatery La Tortilleria in Flemington, and Anchovy in Richmond, plus HuTong Dumpling Bar, Bar Margaux and Supernormal in the CBD.
The directory also includes Providoor, chef Shane Delia's ground-breaking platform that delivers cook-at-home meals from some of Melbourne's best restaurants including Flower Drum, Tipo 00 and Maha Go.
"At the moment the hospitality industry is going through some of the toughest times it has ever seen – especially in Victoria. Innovation has been key and Shane's Providoor is a great new way to purchase a restaurant experience online to enjoy at home," says Scott Pickett of Estelle, Lupo and Matilda. "Now more than ever it's important to keep supporting your local restaurants where you can as they work hard to keep their livelihoods, staff and suppliers afloat."
To drink, you'll find pre-batched Negronis and Martinis from The Everleigh Bottle Co, beers from Phillip Island's Ocean Reach Brewing, and pinot noir and chardonnay from Provenance Wines.
There's produce from the state's producers too. The organic olive oil from Grampians Olive Co gets a look in, as do cheeses of the soft, hard and smelly kind from fromagerie Milk the Cow, Yarra Valley pantry goods from The Regional Pantry, and a bounty of condiments, snacks and kitchen staples from Co-Lab Pantry.
Gippsland Jersey, a small milk-processing factory in Lakes Entrance, has long campaigned for paying dairy farmers a fair price for their milk. Owner Sally Jones says Click for Vic will allow her products to reach more people.
"The call for paddock to plate is getting louder and brands like Gippsland Jersey resonate with consumers all around Australia," she said. "We hope that everyone will Click for Vic and order from at least one regional producer. When you get your product delivered, make sure to read the label - you'll find most of Victoria's makers and creators have a cracking backstory."
In launching the online platform, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said it's important, now more than ever, to buy local. "Without a vaccine, coronavirus will mean we have to find new ways to innovate and adapt. But by Clicking for Vic, we can support these local businesses – all from the comfort of our own lounge rooms," he said in a statement.
"Buying local is always the best policy, but it's particularly important right now."
For more information, visit visitvictoria.com/things-to-do/click-for-vic