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Extracts taken from article printed in Daily Telegraph
Journalist Julie Cross | July 17, 2020 12:30pm
A restaurant owner who was three weeks away from bankruptcy following the COVID-19 lockdown has revealed how he turned his business around with sales now 400 per cent up on what they were before the pandemic hit.
Matt Soltau, 30, who co-owns Havana Beach in Manly, with his wife Citra Trueschel, 31, said they had completely reinvented their business to meet the changing needs of their customers after their revenue dropped 87 per cent following coronavirus restrictions.
“We immediately extended our hours when others were doing the opposite or closing altogether,” he said.
At one point they were selling groceries that were difficult to get in the supermarket such as eggs, pasta, flour, sugar and toilet rolls, along with their burritos and takeaway margaritas.
They also changed their menu so it was “delivery friendly”.
“Eggs Benedict does not travel well,” Mr Soltau said.
Instead of using Uber Eats he used staff to deliver on an electric skateboard, if close by, or moped, if within the surrounding areas or car if it was as further north as Dee Why or across the Spit.
Mr Soltau said he lived by his data and had spreadsheets showing how many weeks they could survive before going bankrupt.
When the restrictions first came in the spreadsheet showed they were just three weeks away, but as they made changes and sales went up that deadline kept extending.
Now the business is doing so well, they have increased staff by two and staff are being offered a lot more hours from what they were pre-COVID and they have expanded into Warringah Mall with a food truck.
They are also looking to open more outlets across Sydney and interstate.
“Our revenue got completely wiped out after lockdown,” Mr Soltau said.
“We weren’t any different from any other business.
“Nobody wants to stand in front of a big, black hole and jump, but at the end of the day we had to take some calculated risks.”
Mr Soltau, who also works for a US start-up, had predicted the virus would spread to Australia and so had been setting up online platforms for that eventuality, which helped save time.
He said they are lucky in that they have a lot of local support and don’t just rely on tourists, but it has been devastating to see other businesses fall during this period.
He said their business model has now changed forever and although the venue is open again they still focus heavily on deliveries.