Current Issue #486

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Star of Greece rides the wave

Ellen Morgan
Like many restaurants, COVID-19 has seen Star of Greece make an unexpected pivot to takeaway

The iconic seaside restaurant that sits on the cliffs above Pt Willunga beach has been shuttered, like all restaurants and cafes, since mid-March, in response to COVID-19 restrictions of public gatherings.

For owner Nikki Govan, the closure came at a time when the restaurant was enjoying a great year and still had several months of peak season ahead of them. Reflecting on the past couple of months, Govan says that changing the restaurant offering to takeaway felt risky, despite already having a takeaway kiosk operating on the same site.

“I was concerned about the reputation of the restaurant,” she says. “Could we reproduce the food people expected from the restaurant. I didn’t want my staff to suffer from ‘keyboard warriors’ being negative, on top of everything else.”

In the end, the decision to go ahead with a takeaway menu for Star of Greece came more from a sense of wanting to give back to both the local community and the loyal staff now waiting it out on JobKeeper.

“What we are providing is a home cooked meal,” Govan says. “It’s not a money-making exercise, it’s a service to our community. It helps keep our people connected and ready to go when things open up again.

“[Hospitality] people need a purpose,” she says, referring to her own husband Doug’s sense of loss when his nearby pub, The Victory Hotel, had to close. “It’s their life, their social network that’s been taken away.” The hotel is now also doing takeaway and looking forward to easing restrictions as South Australia continues on its COVID-19 free stretch.

Star of Greece has come up with a short menu of takeaway dishes at affordable prices, featuring local seafood such as King George Whiting or squid, along with comfort foods such as porchetta or pasta and a children’s menu along similar lines. The new rules for restaurants offering takeaway means locals can also order in a bottle of wine to go with their meal from a selected list of Star of Greece favourites.

Ellen Morgan
Star of Greece, Port Willunga

Personally, Govan has been encouraged by the level of support and has also kept the kiosk open beyond its usual season to cater to the many people using Pt Willunga beach for their daily exercise routine who were looking for a coffee or takeaway lunch after their walk.

“Again, it’s a service to the community,” she says. “We are staying open, rain, hail or shine.”

In the past week, there have been indications that June will see further relaxation of the restrictions on restaurants but Govan is realistic about how quickly business could return to any semblance of normality.

“Even in June, it will still only be up to 20 people and the four metre per person distancing requirement will still be there. For many of us, continuing with the takeaway options may be the thing that can make it viable.”

Ellen Morgan

In her other role as chair of local chamber of commerce, Business SA, Govan says she wants businesses to use this opportunity to think differently about what they do.

She encourages all business people to carefully examine the new rules for options that may help keep them viable while the world recovers from the pandemic and to seek advice if they are unclear on how restrictions might apply to their particular situation. For restaurants, that can be understanding that you can use waiting staff to deliver meals, for example, as long as they have all the necessary licencing and a roadworthy vehicle.

“Having ‘skin in the game’ as a restaurant owner myself gives me a really useful lens for my work at Business SA,” she says.

In an example of this, Govan’s plans to rebrand the kiosk – now the ‘Port Willy Kiosk’ were brought forward to ensure the restaurant menu would not be confused with the kiosk’s very different offering.

It’s one of many small but important adaptations businesses around the state are making to stay afloat until this current storm subsides.

Opening hours:

Star of Greece
Friday – Saturday (5.30 – 7.30pm)

Port Willy Kiosk
Friday – Sunday (9am – 4pm)

Amanda Pepe

Publishing Director
See Profile

Amanda is a journalist, editor and publisher who has dedicated much of her career to independent media in South Australia. She is currently editor and publisher of The Adelaide Review.

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