Pete Hollands, Toby Robinson & Nick Cozens: Three perspectives on lockdown 2021

Story by Jono Carr. Reach out to Jono at drinks@spantonmedia.com or find him on insta @jonothandc

Well, here we are again. As I write this, and it has been incredibly difficult to do so, the whole east coast of Australia is currently in one form of restrictions or another. It’s at times like this that I can’t help but be even more impressed by the people of this beautiful industry.

We are battlers. When faced with such adversities we find a way to come together in ways other than the hugs and handshakes we would prefer. Hospo care packs organised by amazing humans, the good ol’ pivot to take away cocktails from operators sadly so used to doing it. Alongside zoom chats, poker games and trivia nights are a way to get some much needed screen to face time and a sense of community.

I’m no expert on anything, I won’t discuss the government or science, nor play a blame game of who fucked it all up. It’s not my place. I will urge everyone to get vaccinated so we can go back to work but if you don’t agree, good for you. I won’t really listen but you have every right. Seems the only way we can reopen is by doing it, so sign me up.

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“I’m no expert on anything, I won’t discuss the government or science, nor play a blame game of who fucked it all up. It’s not my place. I will urge everyone to get vaccinated so we can go back to work but if you don’t agree, good for you. I won’t really listen but you have every right. Seems the only way we can reopen is by doing it, so sign me up.” – Jono Carr

Seeing the visible sadness in someone like Chau and Bryce (leaders of the hug army that is Burrow Bar) not being able to give that embrace which we all really need right now is heartbreaking. But it is a sign of where we are and what we have to do to get out of this. That’s that.

Seeing as so many of this are all in this together, yet distanced and different, I reached out to see how it is affected some people across the three states.

Peter Hollands of The Gresham in Brisbane

“The lockdown has affected us for sure. We’re fairly fortunate that having moved to table service that our style of service doesn’t change with the restrictions so our patronage has still been quite high as the punters are still getting the same experience. Though the same can’t be said for many other venues, especially ones focused on live music, who I know are doing it tough. Personally, the lockdowns haven’t affected me too much. I’m fortunate to have a supportive wife whose role isn’t changed by working from home which gives me an element of stability not afforded to many others in my circle of friends. Though we did end up just getting a courthouse marriage and it looks like a good amount of our guest list won’t be able to attend when we actually throw the party in a few weeks, though that’s a small price to pay compared to many others around the country. All I can say is I wish the best to everyone stuck at home and look forward to seeing them all again soon.”

Toby Robinson, co-owner of Braci in Sydney

“My business partner Chris is a lockdown veteran – he moved to Sydney from Melbourne to open Braci in March 2021, wanting to get a fresh start. The slew of lockdowns in Melbourne during 2020 gave him the time to rethink his career trajectory. His influence in the business has allowed us all to move past the “doom and gloom” of Covid restrictions on our restaurant and has encouraged us all to think of this time as an opportunity to evolve, grow and learn. Operating a takeaway shop was obviously never our goal, but the space and time this format has given us have allowed me to jump in the kitchen and put my creativity into the food and has given Chris the opportunity to learn about and advise on the barside of things. We’ve enabled fluidity in the business that allows us to react to ever-changing, government-mandated regulation, and have been arming ourselves with the skills and knowledge to make Braci even better when we do return to some kind of normality. Restrictions have limited what we can do, where we can go and who we can see, so it’s fantastic to have a project to work on to get us out of bed in the morning – and something far more appealing than scrolling through Netflix.”

Nick Cozens, newly appointed Innovation brewer at NON Australia in Melbourne

“I feel people in VIC have come to accept these lockdowns aren’t going away any time soon, so instead of dwelling, have been trying to get into routines that just incorporate it as a part of daily life. Making an effort to get up early, do some exercise, be mindful of what you eat and drink and hope the motivation will come. Of course there are down days when you don’t want to do anything, and beer becomes a very reasonable breakfast choice, but you can’t let it become routine, it starts to wear you down. I’ve grown to really appreciate those moments outside your favourite venue on the weekend, waiting for a sandwich special, and a frozen cocktail. I am certain they have saved more than one mental breakdown over these last 18 months.”

 

 

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