Surf Coast and Bellarine cafés face permanent changes

Uforic Food Cafe. Photo Suzie Fitzgerald.
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Local cafes in the region may never look the same as café owners make big changes to cope with social distancing rules. Suzie Fitzgerald reports.

The Surf Coast and Bellarine Peninsula cafés must adapt to a new model of business as social distancing regulations remain, local café owners say.

Uforic Food Café owner Lisa Cummins said it felt like they were starting over again.

‘‘We have to completely change everything,” she said.

The comfort-food orientated café, near Torquay, now must focus on serving more portable food items, as the café is too small to have customers dine in and be safely distanced.

‘‘It’s not about cosy anymore, but rather the complete opposite. This is our chance to recreate things,’’ she said.

Ocean Grove café Hello Birdie owner Susan Hanks said she had to make extensive changes to her kid-friendly café.

‘‘It’s mainly been a completely different crowd,’’ she said.

Hello Birdie Cafe. Photo Suzie Fitzgerald.

‘’Because of the restrictions we’ve had very minimal mothers coming in, so we’ve had to change our concept to opening up to tradies, changing our opening hours, now opening at 6:30 in the morning.’’

Both café owners have also said the importance of social media moving forward.

‘‘I’ve done a lot of how-to videos from home, teaching people how to cook when you don’t necessarily have all the ingredients,’’ Ms Cummins said.

‘’Finding those ways to connect and giving those tips, you get the support back, which has been really fantastic.’’

With a new Instagram account, @hellobirdie_cafe has encouraged customers to come and grab a coffee, as well as bring their four-legged friends for a puppacino.

Ms Hanks said they’d also put more effort into social media.

‘’Doing more advertising, doing more promoting, and just adapting and getting what we’re offering out there I think is so important.”

Ms Hanks said community support was vital for these small businesses.

‘’I think it’s a great opportunity where people can actually help each other out.’’

Both coastal cafes are unable to make many changes to customer capacity while social distancing regulations still apply because of their small building sizes.

*Plans to allow an increase in patronage in cafes and restaurants have been delayed because of the recent rise in Victorian Coronavirus cases.