The wrap up for 2022 in a sentence? It’s been a bit of a slow burn.
While it’s exciting to have welcomed back some of our special events, held functions again and finally returned to the rhythm of general dining, the claw back from Covid continues to affect our business and industry.
Sick of hearing about it? We are too!
The reality is however that hospitality has been in virtual meltdown since the pandemic began. It has been heartbreaking watching countless small businesses forced to close, only to never manage to reopen again. It has been the worst hit industry with around 1 in 3 paid jobs lost, a mass exodus from hospitality as a career choice and from the country itself as many workers needed to return home overseas.
The staffing crisis has obviously affected service, there’s no doubt about it. The fact that Bitton is built on service, has made the whole situation hard to accept as a business owner. The internal struggle of balancing expectation and reality has been a hard one. To my core staff’s credit, they rode the wave well and (said with caution) we are starting to see some strong new employees come through now.
The restaurants themselves continue to battle with cancellations and hesitance to book events as although restrictions have eased, people remain nervous about being out and about.
Here’s hoping that things will continue to turn around in 2023. After saying good-bye to some key staff during the year, we are so happy to have hired some new very experienced staff. It’s early days but many come from excellent industry pedigree and after only a few short but hectic weeks, its nice to watch our team get stronger. Watch this space as our menus change and service settles over Summer to reflect their experience and skill.
One of the benefits of the pandemic has been the huge shift in the use of technology throughout hospitality. We have taken the opportunity to update many of our systems which has enabled us to adapt to sudden changes as well as keep in better touch with our customers and improve our customer experience. In this post-pandemic stage customers will have a higher expectation when it comes to experience and technology and we need to keep up with it. Improved analytics mean that its never been so easy to find out what customers want and personalise their time in a venue.
We will continue to open up further with a year ahead of more fabulous events such as whiskey tasting nights, French wine dinners, cheese degustations and so much more! Make sure you are on our database so you are the first to know.
While it’s been on the cards for a while, we hope that a new year will bring us a new Bitton – number 4. Its no secret that we have a plan to create more café bistros around Sydney in the coming years and after the Covid hiatus, we will hopefully be able to move on this soon.
We are delighted to continue to strengthen our relationship with many brands such as Woolworths, Magimix, Vittel and Grinders, as well as our suppliers, manufacturers, distributors and consulting clients. It will be so rewarding to be able to be in the same room together again and see the ease of logistics return so that mutual business can benefit.
In 2023 we will continue to give back to the charities close to us – Ronald MacDonald House, the Australian Ambassador Programme, Beyond Blue and our local charities in the communities where our restaurants sit. I am also delighted to be joining the Advisory Board of Kenvale College – a fabulous hospitality school.
No doubt with Summer here, things will trend up and people will be out and about over the holidays, supporting their local cafes and restaurants. We hope the pent up desire to travel, eat out, celebrate and meet face-to-face again will help our industry recover. After all, we are an essential part of the Australian business landscape and lifestyle.