Melbourne’s cafes, pubs and restaurants have been brought to life after months of devastating shutdown in preparation for Wednesday’s ‘new beginnings’.
After enduring 112 days of incarceration, restaurant owners have finally been able to fulfill the promise that Victorian Prime Minister Daniel Andrews had cruelly taken from them so many times before.
On the ground in Melbourne’s CBD, workers could sweep floors, clean glasses and dust tables that have been in storage for far too long.
Patrick Walsh, Hochi Mama restaurant employee, cleans a table in preparation for the restaurant’s reopening in Melbourne
Collaborator Sam from The Commons at Ormond Collective in Melbourne prepares to reopen
Workers clean the top of a Melbourne ferry in the shadow of Arbory Afloat and the Melbourne skyline
Windows had to be cleaned, cutlery polished and dishes in the dishwasher.
Floors were swept, boats repaired, and truck drivers took action.
In Movida, near the once busy Melbourne court, workers were spotted delivering a new refrigerator.
Inside the popular restaurant there was activity.
Along the Yarra River, Southbank restaurants and pubs were a sea of activity.
On a pontoon, located right on the water, Arbory Afloat underwent a revival that many feared would never happen.
Workers on boats prepared the facade of the floating watering hole, while those on board moved frantically around chairs, tables and potted plants.
Across the street, at the iconic Young & Jackson, the bar staff were seen preparing to do what the bar staff do best: pour beer, and lots of it.
Melburnians lucky enough to get a spot in a pub or restaurant on Wednesday will have to drink quickly.
They have two hours to knock back as many beers as possible – responsibly, of course – before being provoked in front of a new thirsty crowd.
Under the new regulations, guests must sit to eat or drink.
Main events and hospitality outfit The Big Group – and pub owner – Bruce Keebaugh is lucky enough to have one of the best beer gardens in Melbourne
Allegra the dog kicks back as his owner books a spot at the bar for when the Commons at Ormond Collective reopens
The Commons at Ormond Collective can seat 50 people outside when it reopens to the public on Thursdays
Indoors has a maximum of 10 people per space, with a maximum of 20 customers per location, while outdoors is a maximum of 50 customers per location.
A short walk out of town, along St Kilda Road, The Commons staff at Ormond Collective made a final push on Thursday to open up to the public.
On the site of the old Belgian beer garden, the venue has arguably one of the best beer gardens in Melbourne, set in a lush park surrounded by beautiful architecture.
Events and hospitality outfit The Big Group – and pub owner – Bruce Keebaugh told Daily Mail Australia he was excited to throw open the venue’s doors.
“No one wanted to be closed at all and everyone wanted to be open,” he said.
‘But it had to be a staged approach. Ultimately, it’s a global, international crisis we’ve had here, so you have to walk before you run. ‘
Mr. Keebaugh said the staged reopening was a welcome opportunity for Melbourne’s crippled hospitality industry.
“What we said is that we can follow the six COVID steps and we can provide a COVID safe environment for our staff and our guests,” he said.
Workers move a refrigerator to Movida across the road from the Melbourne Supreme Court in Victoria
A woman swipes over to open the doors in Melbourne
Workers were kept busy on the Yarra River on Tuesday in preparation for tomorrow’s grand reopening
‘We are now obliged to do that and we have been given the opportunity to do that with smaller numbers.’
The hospitality industry will hold up on Nov. 8, when Mr. Andrews is expected to ease restrictions even further.
“I think if we all reach that original goal, we will follow the same kind of principle as New South Wales, which now has 300 people at indoor events and they have done it in a gradual way.”
“It was impossible that they would open us like a floodgate and I don’t think the customer wants to see that after everything they’ve been through and as an operator, I don’t really want that risk.”
While Mr. Keebaugh remained optimistic about the challenge, other owners without access to a beer garden as impressive as his were not as optimistic.
Lamaro’s hotel owner Paul Dimattina was scathing about the prime minister’s restrictions on their profession.
“We’re begging and begging (the government) to allow us to go back to what we were … the numbers right now are unworkable,” he told 3AW this morning.
‘This isn’t about making a profit, so I’m tired of people thinking profit is a dirty word. You don’t go into business to go bankrupt, but at the same time, profit is not even on our agenda. ‘
No more drinks at the court: The Metropolitan, located in the courthouse district, closed its store during the first COVID-19 outbreak in Melbourne
A cafe along the once bustling William Street is no more
A sign in the window blames the Victorian government for the closure
Mr Dimattina said his company was inundated with booking requests, which he was unable to fill under current capacity constraints.
“We’re trying to manage people’s expectations with such limited, ridiculous numbers we’ve gotten indoors,” he said.
“We’re five times cleaner than what you’re going to see in Woolworths or Coles or wherever.”
For many businesses in Melbourne, the reopening has come much too late.
Melbourne’s CBD is riddled with the corpses of failed businesses, many of which did not survive the initial lockdown in a city known for massive rents.
Cafes, pubs and restaurants in once busy business districts are now boarded up.
For those who have survived so far, the question remains for how much longer.
City resident Mario Buttergieg said the Victorian Prime Minister had murdered Melbourne.
‘Look at the city, our suburbs. Abandoned as a post-apocalyptic wasteland of Mad Max, ”he said.
Soldiers continue to patrol Melbourne, despite the relaxation of restrictions
The Mint is across the street from the now closed Metropolitan. Thirsty lawyers and drinking dogs are expected to congregate there as soon as the doors open
Melbourne’s Flagstaff Gardens went quiet on Tuesday while office workers continued to work from home