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In this blog, we outline some handy tips from one of Sydney’s best hospitality marketing companies and interview one of the co founders of the Grounds who built up arguably one of Australia’s most esteemed cafe brands on his advice on recovery after COVID. We hope you find this useful……….

In Australia, we are in a lucky to have managed to navigate through the pandemic better than most countries around the world. Our casualty numbers are relatively low and we are experiencing a stronger economic recovery than other countries. Our control of the virus due to an early shutdown has also meant that we have been able to come out of lockdown sooner than the 6 months initially anticipated. We like the rest of the hospitality industry have been hit particularly hard by the lockdowns and now each state is in various stages of recovery back to normal.

Under stage 2 of the Fed Govt’s Government’s ‘roadmap to recovery’, hospitality venues are now allowed to seat up to 50 dine-in customers at a time in NSW with new unlimited rules announced for the 1st July (allowing the venue has the space to maintain 4 square metres between patrons). After 2 months of relying solely on takeaway and home delivery to survive, cafes and restaurants are slowly getting back to normal, while trying to recover from the devastating loss the pandemic has had on the industry as a whole. 

Dining out will be a different experience than what we are used to and therefore cafes and restaurants are having to adopt new strategies to operate successfully. With Stage 2 underway and stage 3 just around the corner the hospitality industry is scrambling to get back it’s customers as quickly as possible and get trading back to normal.



From June 1, Venues will be able to have up to a maximum of 80 people provided they can have 20 in discrete rooms or areas within the establishment. Pubs will also be allowed to serve drinks without a meal but they must be seated.


From June 1, Restaurants, cafes and the dining areas of pubs will be allowed to reopen with up to 20 patrons but must abide by physical distancing requirements. This is now the current status and will any more relaxations will be pending depending on the COVID numbers in the state.


From June 1, up to 50 people will be allowed in restaurants, pubs and cafes, subject to four square metre rule. Bookings of no more than 10 people and patrons must be seated. From July 1 an unlimited number of people are allowed to be seated in a venue as long as the 4sqm rule is adhered to.


From June 12, venues will be subject to the four square metre rule and social distancing, up to 20 people will be allowed to gather in restaurants, cafes, pubs, clubs, hotels and casinos Allowed to offer dining-in (but no bars or gaming allowed to reopen). From July 10, limits on the number of patrons in public spaces will be lifted to 100.


From May 18, Cafes and restaurants with meal service, including within pubs, bars, clubs, hotels and casino allowed to serve up to 20 patrons.


  1. Marketing now more than ever is vital to get back your customers as quickly as possible. With confusion over who is open, opening times and what they are offering, your customers need to know you are open and whats on offer. The whole hospitality landscape has changed and people are out wanting to dine out after being locked up inside for many weeks.

  2. Social media plays an essential role in assisting to rebuild your customer base. Social media usage has risen 47% during the lockdown and will remain high. It is imperative that during this time, businesses are posting regularly for visibility and increased engagement. Posts should include updates on the steps that the business is taking to ensure the safety of their customers when visiting their venue. CTA’s such as “head to our website to make a booking” or “check out our menu” should also be used to encourage immediate response.

  3. All your social media accounts should be updated on your current offerings, open times and booking times if you are doing set seatings. Also mention if you are still doing takeaway/ delivery or if this has changed.

  4. Targeted advertising on Facebook and Instagram can also be a useful way of heightening exposure of the business. The tone of advertising is important as it should focus on ensuring that customers feel comfortable and are not rushed into making decisions when deciding whether to dine out. Letting them know booking times and availability is good as well.

  5. Maintaining regular contact with local customers by offering loyalty programmes, discounts and promotions. As many people will continue to work from home for an extended period, it is crucial to keep in touch with customers who live within close proximity. Providing incentives often increases overall customer satisfaction and making them feel special. We know that local communities still want to support their local venues as much as possible so thank them and find ways to make them feel special.

  6. Now that local foot traffic is about, have flyers out encouraging return customers with offers etc. Give them an excuse to come back.

  7. Promote new menu options to entice potential or existing customers. This will demonstrate that the business has been active during this time and has continued to work on their menu in order to provide a range of delicious offerings for their customers. 

  8. For a more comprehensive overall plan for what you should do for your marketing then look at our previous blog ” The 10 most effective ways to market your cafe or restaurant in 2020 ” , which goes into much more detail.


  1. Social distancing should be encouraged in both waiting areas and table placement with clear indication of safe distances that are to be maintained within the venue. Tables are to be spread out by a distance of 1.5 metres in order to adhere to restrictions as well as meeting the 4 sqm Rule.

  2. Make sure there is adequate signage in the venue about maintaining social distancing, point out that the place is being cleaned and extra precautions being taken by staff to maintain high standards of hygiene.

  3. Encouraging prior bookings may assist in ensuring that customers are not turned away or do not have to spend too much time waiting. This is more important for restaurants with set booking sessions so that you can maximise your covers for the night.

  4. Encouraging customers to download the COVIDSafe app and maintaining a record of their details, just in case they need to be contacted. Venues at the moment are passing around a sheet to fill in customers contact details and arrival times so that records are kept on hand. 

  5. Adhering to State and Federal health guidelines is crucial to ensuring customers safety, this includes measures such as:

  6. Using disposable or chalkboard menus to ensure that hygiene standards are being met.

  7. Using tap-and-go payments and having wipes readily available to sanitise the cash registers between uses.

  8. Offering hand sanitiser for customers upon entry and exit to maintain health standards within the venue. 

  9. Ensuring that additional condiments are offered by waiters or waitresses upon serving the food rather than shared or passed around tables.

  10. For cafes or fast food outlets doing a lot of counter services and lines of face to face customers, you can also consider using physical protection on the counter for your staff and customers. We recommend this company that can provide protection screens and sneeze guards at reasonable prices

  11. By showing customers and authorities that you are taking hygiene and precautions seriously will give them a sense of confidence to dine with you. This is also a really good selling point for your marketing during this time. This could be the new normal for the next 12-18 months so its best to get prepared and make it a good routine.

  12. The NSW Govt has outlined a helpful COVID safe plan for restaurants and cafes. Where practical to follow these guidelines will help keep your venue safe and COVID friendly.

Jack Hannah, co-founder of The Ground’s of Alexandria outlines some key points for getting your venue back on track in the post-restriction period. 

What is the most important thing for cafes and restaurants to focus on when reopening Post COVID?

“What a lot of restaurateurs and owners will have forgotten is shifting the focus on to the customers when reopening. This may seem like the obvious because at the end of the day you are in the service industry. What I mean by this, is to focus the attention on the customers and away from COVID. Remember, we are all people, we all have emotions and this is a trying time for all of us. Being in the hospitality industry we are really a ‘surplus’ to what people need. Especially when people have lost jobs and wages have been cut. It is more important than ever to provide VALUE to your existing customers. If you want your customers to support local businesses, then you have to ask how are you supporting your customers? Talk to them about THEIR problems, give them a free coffee to show gratitude, random acts of kindness (something that’s not expected) will go a long way here”

How important is marketing your cafe during this period?

“Marketing has always been important, however, marketing now is extremely crucial. The message that you want to send out at the moment is completely different from what you would normally do.  Your marketing is a representation of what your business stands for.  Remember in a hard time like this what your marketing will really show if you care or not. If you market discounts, people will see that you are just trying to get people to come through the door. If you’re marketing about care and attention for your customers this will also reflect what it says about your business”.

What is your advice on getting your team back up and running in the recovery?

“Everyone should set an immediate goal that is driven around the customer’s emotional need. Your aim is to provide something more than just ‘back to the way we were’. Where it may be for one month everyone in the business focus on asking your community how they dealt with COVID or another could be each day you aim to make someone’s day by doing something extra. These goal-focused businesses will create team building and camaraderie”.

Do you think bookings are now important if you had never had a booking system before?

“Bookings are definitely more important short term as it gives both owners and customers some comfort around the availability of seats. But you could always leave some tables free for walk-ins.”

What is the best way to handle crowds or fit in with the new 50 person limit?

“Decide on how many people you can accommodate in the takeaway area and decide on the remaining for sit down. Some businesses may opt to keep only take away for now as it is more economical to do so. This is up to the owners and managers.”

Jack has consulted to over 60 hospitality businesses and has transformed a majority of them to successful stories. His approach is not to treat hospitality like an F&B business but to approach it as if it were an ‘experience business’.

You can reach Jack at his consultancy and advisory firm

We hope that you found this blog useful, while you are here check out our other blogs here, , full of useful tips to help with your cafe and restaurant.

If you have any marketing needs for you cafe or restaurant then feel free to get in touch with us to see how we can help you get back on your feet as quickly as possible, we have worked with over 140 cafes and restaurants over the last 7 years and would love to help you!

Just get in contact with us here


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