There’s no doubt that lockdown threw some major curveballs in the way of the hospitality industry. We, alongside many of our wholesale accounts and their customers, missed dining in and sipping on coffee from a dine-in cup. There are still plenty uncertainties, but one thing is certain for café owners and businesses in the hospitality industry: we need to be ready for action.

Many of us are still figuring out how to do business post-lockdown. People are uncertain and there is still a lot of angst floating in the air. Although there is a sense of nervousness we need to be conscious of, we’re confident that our customers will surge to pre-pandemic levels. It’s important to keep in mind that the door to the hospitality industry is opening not only to existing café owners but to new ones too. We would like to share some tips and ideas on what may help our café customers as we move through this transition stage.



We believe that post-lockdown behaviour will see people shopping where they feel most comfortable and safe. Remove the clutter, create an­ open space and have clear signage and directions – we think it is wise to have someone intently cleaning touchpoints wherever possible. Remember, people have missed out on a ton of social connection, so show your best face and take every opportunity to make them feel welcome. Make sure your food and beverage items are well displayed and easy to access. For more ideas, please download our Covid-safe café checklist.



While some café owners were focused on staying afloat, others were using the lockdown to identify opportunities to one-up their competition. With new cafes popping up left, right and centre, it is essential to separate yourself from the crowd. We’ve mentioned it earlier, but we feel it applies here too; people have missed out on a ton of social connection, so our advice is to show your best face and then focus on creating connections. Don’t be afraid to tell your story, whether it be through your menu, or your décor, try to win customers over by creating connections. If you’re not sure where to start, have a look at the HubSpot FlyWheel Model.

Key takeaway: We must first attract, then engage, and then delight our customers to transition them from being strangers to our business to promoters. If you’re keen on a bit of extra reading, have a look at Seth Godin’s book, Purple Cow: How to transform your business by being remarkable.



As business owners considering this new chapter, we need to ensure we have a firm grip on our financial position. We must be alert to any changes or trends that might affect our profitability and cash flow. Spikes in revenue are welcome, but we need to keep our costs in control so that we can turn our increased sales into profit dollars. A few questions to ask yourself: Have our fixed expenses changed? Have we factored in increases in employment costs? Are there new costs that the pandemic has created? Work on your profit and loss statement (P&L) and try to forecast how your business will perform in the post-pandemic world. Make sure you understand what your actual cash position is, and how it is likely to change as numbers increase. Having a clear view of your current financial fitness will prevent any false starts in the new race.



The biggest headache facing many cafes and restaurants is the problem of rehiring the staff needed to get your business operating smoothly. With critical worker shortages hurting Christmas plans for café owners, it is so important to focus on your staff. We always say: a business owner builds the team, and the team builds the business. Attracting and retaining the right people in a very tight market is going to be a challenge. Ask yourself the question: How can I be the employer of choice? It won’t be just about money (although that’s clearly a huge factor). It will be about the environment, the culture, and the care factor too. As owners, we will need to work harder than ever to earn staff loyalty by providing the right working conditions where staff feel wanted, respected, and rewarded.



Make sure you are not sacrificing your margins. There’s no doubt that the price of many of your supplies has been significantly affected by Covid. Supply and demand issues, transport costs and labour shortages have hiked the price of many of our staples. Take coffee, for example; the green bean price has doubled in the past twelve months due to a significantly reduced harvest in Brazil. Good practice would be to audit each item on your menu and adjust your pricing to ensure your margins are maintained.



Outdoor café and dining permits are currently being fast-tracked to help in some areas. In Melbourne, the temporary extended outdoor dining permit will allow eligible hospitality venues to:

  1. Expand onto footpaths
  2. Take over on-street car parking space immediately outside their business
  3. Join with neighbouring businesses to take over sections of on-street car parking, footpaths and (in some cases) street space
  4. Join with neighbouring businesses to expand into a laneway adjacent to their business

Check out the offer of assistance HERE

7. Get the word out


Be the first to make it widely and clearly known that you are open. Don’t rely on your storefront to advertise that you are open – make the most of the free online tools, like Instagram, Facebook, and your Google listing (this is critical!) to show that you are open. Use absolutely every single opportunity to announce that you are open; open the doors, turn every light on, pump the music (not too loudly cos you care about your neighbours, right) and get the word out! Consider sticking posters around your local area to announce new deals or updates to your business.



Yes, this is a little tongue in cheek, of course, but at the end of the day, it all comes down to the coffee, so there is no doubt that partnering with a great specialty coffee roaster that really cares about your success, is an essential ingredient to driving your cafe’s profitability. At Zest we like to say: we don’t sell coffee; we helpyouto sell coffee. From coffee blends to marketing, we know what it takes to sell coffee. You’re with the best on the block, so be positive, be proactive, and be positioned for success.


Here’s one last gesture of our goodwill for your success. Download our Covid-Safe Procedures and Signage Pack to make your life a little easier in preparing your venue for the good times ahead.

Check out our wholesale page to learn how we can help your café succeed post-lockdown.