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Now hiring! Watering hole pivots with success

Thorpe Hospitality’s James Thorpe has defied the downturn by keeping all staff from two of his venues employed as well as now hiring more.

The owners of some of our favourite watering holes have gone from simply wanting to tread water for the next few months to building a new and sustainable business, almost overnight.

Thorpe Hospitality – that own The Taphouse and The Oxford Tavern in Sydney – have pivoted to become a full-blown food and booze delivery service. And because of it, they’ve not only managed to keep all of their full-time and casual staff employed, but they have also now hired five new employees.

“It’s gone better than we could ever have imagined,” James Thorpe said.

“We’ve spent a lot of time and effort in getting the right teams together. They are quite simply the best workers. And we wanted to do what we could to retain them.”

In NSW, Thorpe said, there aren’t many restrictions stopping a venue using their liquor license to deliver beer and wine to people’s homes. One of the main reasons the likes of Uber Eats haven’t been doing it is because a delivery driver must have their RSA.

“Really, we should have been doing this a long time ago.

“But we found ourselves in the perfect position – we had people that would otherwise have been out of work, they all have their RSA, and they all have either a car or a bike.”

Under Thorpe Hospitality’s new business model, a customer places an order on their new online platform and the order is delivered by one of their employees in about 30 minutes. Best of all, 100 per cent of the money comes direct to them as they’re not paying fees to a third party.

“We are very, very happy to be still employing these guys and to be serving our local community. I’m always up for giving anything a shot but, seriously, I thought we would be simply trying to stay afloat for the next three months.

“We thought there would be a 70 per cent chance no one would order through us. I mean, how will they find us if we’re not on Uber?”

Thorpe said instead of paying fees to a third party delivery service, they chose to spend on platforms like Facebook to get their messaging across.

“When the first orders started coming in we got quite emotional,” he said.

“Then they were doubling week-on-week. We had gone from treading water to a sustainable business model in a matter of days.”

Thorpe wanted to stress the level of support he’s had from some of their key suppliers over this time.

“It’s been second-to-none, especially from the guys at Young Henrys.

“They’ve gone over and above for us and you really see the true value of a business when times are tough. We won’t ever forget that.”

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