16 July 2006

Restaurants in crisis

| johnboy
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The Canberra Times has a story on hard times in the restaurant industry as too many eateries struggle with not enough punters.

They think 1/3 of restaurants are going to have to close to make the industry viable.

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Jesus Christ I like the taste of my own shoe – a good reason to quit cheffing 🙂
In any case – go the pea soup floaters

Thumper – ur my kinda gal 🙂

Meh – i get out of bed earlier – proven fact that the 1st 2 hours of work when there is no one here to distract you / no phones ringing is the best for getting ( posts on riotact ) work done.
besides I am a non smoker – so I am just making up the time that my team uses “going for coffees” across the road. 🙂 – The reason I paid particular attention to this thread is because I am passionate about how hard done by all hospitality staff are in this “shitowne” – They want customers to pay Sydney prices but will pay their staff a pittance 3rd world wage for doing so.

morto1980 – you only need to go as far as Danman’s: “Im quite happy to be called a PS bum – as I have earnt it…” to answer you’re question. It’s all there from the crap grammar to the self centred confession of egotistical theft.

Does anyone else notice that Danman says he’s not lazy but then spends all day peppering this thread with comments? 😉

In one sense it’s partly our fault – as participants in the market we’re the ones that keep giving some of these shit-holes business that they definitely don’t deserve.

For too long Canberra has been besieged by establishments unscrupulously prepared to palm off short order cooking on an uneducated public at haute cuisine prices – and for fucks sake why do people insist on paying upwards of $18.00 for a plate of pasta! All this bullshit about rent and overheads and all that crap is a lie – there’s no way you can convince me that a place in Melbourne or Sydney CBD is paying less rent yet they have little need to rip-off customers to the tune of $20-odd a plate for a tower of fucking rocket and a few slithers of smoked chicken artfully ‘drizzled’ by the kitchen-hand with aioli (to be honest I had always thought that ‘aioli’ was that bit around a woman’s nipple that made her giggle when you kissed it … is that too much information?).

Hotdogs and beer should never be underrated as a culinary experience.

I accept your comment about number of “quality” establishments, my point was the number of very ordinary places outweigh the quality in a bad way. For this size town half a dozen high end places would be able to survive but there is closer to 4 times that many trying to be hatted restaurants.

I have been amazed at how long some very ordinary places survive. That said if Anise closes its doors that will be a sad thing.

Chefs still love to cook – it’s just you can lack the energy to go all out sometimes. Also, after being surrounded by expensive cuts of meat, veal glaces, duck fat, foie gras, $50-a-bottle wine, imported calvados and truffle oil all week, sometimes all you want is a dirty-water hotdog and a beer.

Oh and I enjoy cooking again VY 😛 Love it – but for max 10 to 15 at a time – not 100’s – I catered for a wedding earlier this year for 100 and that ws my reality check for the next decade or so.

I second VY on the Central Cafe call.
A few staples that I have in canberra for fine dining ( that is – a place to take your fiancee/spouse/partner for a quiet pre/post theatre dinner or just a quet romantic night away from the kids )includes ( Gratuitious plug ) Green Herring in federation Village – Mezzalira On London ( City ) Charcoal restaraunt ( City again ) Bellucis ( Dickson only – Phillip one is lacking ) and Rock Salt in Hawker. I will never EVER tire of being the customer – not for a second – a decade working for nuts in hot sweaty cramped kitchens will do this to you.

I know I’m going to be accused of being a bogan here, but I’d say the Central Cafe in Queanbeyan has to be the best place around for simple food in large quantities at low prices. Not much in terms of ambience, but a great feed.

Mr-Shab – thanx for the comments above about chefs. It’s interesting to hear why some groups of people do the things they do. It sounds like a bit of a shame that chefs don’t like to cook after a while, though!

We don’t go out much anymore, because the value’s just not there. The prices at ordinary places for really ordinary food are ridiculous.

it’s a real shame there isn’t a well-known sounding post for ordinary people to put their comments about eateries. That way, the bad ones would soon be known, and the good ones would reap the rewards. I still think Riot Act should put a button or something on the main page, and get an ad-hoc people-driven food review site going.

Eating out is such a lottery here, and most of the time you leave wondering why you spent all that money for a really marginal experience.

Thats because the Govenment pays real salaries for reasonable work hours.

Not everyone wants to be on there feet all day or getting up at 5am to go to work in the rain or whatever.

People want to be paid 50K for sitting in an office which is climate controled from 8:30am – 5pm with breaks etc.

Yeah – it was quite a while before I could properly enjoy mashed spuds or handmade pasta or gnocchi again after I quit.

The money and the hours are predisposing reasons to quit. More usually it tends to be the strain that the hours puts on your personal life – with any serious partner (my reason for quitting) or for kids.

The money actually doesn’t so much come into it. I found that as you’re working 60-80 hours a week, you don’t have much time to spend it anyway. It sorta builds up in your account till you go and blow it on a silly consumer item or booze/drugs/loose women.

Thumper – I think you will find that the Public Service is a retirement village for all Ex Trade people – I know a lot or construction – hair dressers – mechanics etc who are qualified in their field and woring for the gummint

I dunno – maybe ex-chefs are just a particularly opinionated lot…

I actually started because I enjoyed cooking and was quite competent pre trade. I actually stopped cooking because I wanted to enjoy it again. Nothing like commercial quantities to ruin you rlove of cooking.

Cooks and chefs are a funny old lot, VYB.

Most will move extensively within the industry (i.e – sick of long antisocial hours? Take a paycut and cook in cafes. Not earning enough money – go cook fine dining, etc).

Cooks also tend (on the whole) to be social misfits and borderline personalities. No disrespect intended, and not to imply that these guys and gals are dumb – far from it (well…usually) – but most of the guys I cooked with should not be giving policy advice at Treasury. You’d have a host of bullying/sexual harrassment/OHS claims on your hands before you could blink and an economy doing some very *interesting* things.

‘sides – a lot of people don’t put up with the crap hours and lousy pay (Danman and I are two such examples).

You’re also dealing with a lot of people who are very passionate about what they do (you don’t put up with the crap pay and hours otherwise).

The economic models don’t work so well when you plug in provisos like this…

It suprises me that people hang around to put with crap money for massive hours and lots of hassles, especially in a public service town like Canberra. Someone has to do the job, I suppose, but if fewer people are around to do it, and demand for the staff increases, so too should the remuneration. That’s probably a simplified view of the world, but whenever someone bitches or moans about “too much work, not enough $$” I generally suggest getting a new job.

You can begin shouting at me………now.

Hope y’all can read the above post – mondayitis typo city

** Rant Warning**

Mr Shab – agreed – When I changed places from Head Chef at small cafe – doing 60 hours a week for a mere 40 000 a year – to 38 hrs a week – starting at 0730 and walking out the door at 1530 and earning 48 000 a year – the differemce is immesurable. Getting paid for public holidays and not working weekends was bliss. Also teh fact that when I was sick I could have a day off. One of the worst things I have ever don ein my life was be forced into turning up to work with conjuncitivitus – it was that or loose my job as the nature of most hosppitality estyblisments is to be understaffed to fatten the pocket of the owner and stress teh crap outta the staff. What is with that anyway – canberra chefs – like hospital staff – get pad dick all for working their ring off.
Most of the time the front of house prices are not reflected in the pay packets of the people who are responsible for the food. I know for a fact that the last place I worked as a chef went down to the order of 750 000 – for not paying rent for 6 months – not paying super – ever ( and I never got it paid after long legal disputes ) and never paying PAYG for any employees. I worked there for about a year and it took me about that much time with the insolvency practitioner to get a fraction of my annual leave entitlements bacl – and that was after the insolvency practitioner took their dusting off the top as well.

Im quite happy to be called a PS bum – as I have earnt it – besides I dont feel lazy – how many PS-ers are at work by 0730 ? Oh and RE Bonfires comment abotu providing ID before ordering food – That cafe that used to be where krispy Kreme now is – they requested that from a friend and me – now I dont look liek a goodie 2 shoes – but I dont look like an outlaw – so whats with that ? Are businnes now not focussed on the customer ?
I was took offence and left stating that I am not a criminal

that article diturbed me as it seemd to condone the black economy. its every citizens duty to pay appropriate tax.

one weekend earlier this year i was in geelong and went to a cafe with some friends. we were asked if we wanted to pay as we went or setup an account (?). We decidee to pay as we went for cofffees, but when we came to order a meal, the waitress wanted either a credit card or a license for the cafe to hold until we paid. i’d had enough by that stage and we simply left and went somewhere else.

this place was not bloody florentinos quality either.

I think many people (me included) have had enough of high prices and crap srrvice. I almost never go to good restuarants in Canberra any more, I’d much rather spend half as much $$ on something a lot less pretentious.

However, there are a few good ones around. I tend to have my favourites, and stick to those. None of them are really top price, though.

You could Dan – or like me, every time you get the urge (and a strong urge it can be), you remember that you’re at home with your partner at 7pm on a Friday night sipping a beer instead of in the shit the middle of dinner service.

maybe I should start cheffin again and leave my intel field – obvious that the industry has fallen apart since my departure 4 years ago ;P

I’m very sorry to see Anise go – I knew one of the apprentices, who loved working there. I also ate there a couple of times – the food and service were both superb.

Water’s Edge was a case of Ms Wright’s obsession with doing what’s hip in Sydney. It was certainly a very “flash” restaurant, but too much and too expensive for the market in homey ol’ Canberra.

Tempestas is bang on the money in saying that every pube with a package has inflicted their own brand of culinary hell on Canberra’s hospitality workers and dining public. I’d be happy to see a few of them close, and let the cold-blooded pro’s handle it.

I’d disagree with your assertion that there is a dearth of quality establishments in Canberra. I can think of at least half a dozen seriously good eateries without very much thought at all. Remember – we’re a small town.

Canberra has very few quality restaurants, and far too many wannabe cafe/restaurant establishments. In short every ex-public servant with a package has tried to make a crust by torturing uni-students working hospitality passing on their bad taste, food choices and approaches to service, pick almost anywhere in Manuka really.

The point is there could be less venues with better quality and I think everyone would be better off.

maybe carlo’s should close

“There are far too many restaurants for the population, and people aren’t paying enough for the food that they are getting”

Cry me a river. After recently visiting Tokyo (with it’s reputation of being expensive, blah, blah) I was reminded how bloody expensive it is in Australia (Canberra especially).

What this really means is that the crap/poorly managed restaurants – some which have been mentioned here recently 😉 – will close due to other owners being less greedy, having superior business skill or having a better product.

For a real cut-throat restaurant environment check out the Curry Mile

I’m sure Ms. Wright has nothing to worry about considering her chain of defence cafes in Russell are overpriced as ever (and always busy).

I’ve always thought that Canberra has stacks of restaurants for the population, especially given the prices at a lot of them. Interestingly enough I’ve never heard anyone rave about the places mentioned as closing/selling in the article.

That’s 1/3 of existing restaurants – there are heaps more opening soon, hence the whinge.

Perhaps the competition will lift the generally appalling service levels found in Canberra.

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