Essentials Express a business boom for Bella Vista Hotel

Article featured in Australian Hotelier 1st April 2020 edition:

Momento Hospitality have turned their warehouse behind the Bella Vista Hotel in Sydney’s north-west into a drive-through one-stop shop for alcohol, fresh produce, prepared meals and grocery staples – and have been doing a booming trade through it.

Essentials Express at Bella is an initiative thought up by Momento Hospitality’s group executive chef, Sam Youngs. With the large warehouse space behind the hotel, he thought up the concept to use produce/stock the hotel had on hand before the closures, to create a drive-through shop for food, alcohol and essentials like toilet paper.

The concept has taken off with the local community, who have found another outlet to grab the essentials they need which are currently out of stock in supermarkets. The initative has also kept some of the hotel’s staff in employment.

“So far this initiative has kept over a dozen staff employed as well as moving through stock for our suppliers, who are all very appreciative in these tough times,” stated Jason Jelicich, CX Director for the group.

Bearing public safety in mind, the operation includes a drive-through, no-touch set-up where customers do not have to get out of their cars. They simply fill out a form with what they want, and staff pack their order and bring it to their car. All payments are done by EFTPOS, so there is no handling of cash.

Popular items include have included toilet paper, meat packs and pre-batched cocktails. Fresh pasta is also a popular choice, which has kept some of the hotel’s chefs employed in the kitchen.

“The other benefit of this initiative is that we have been able to run-down our cool-rooms, which were full to the brim when the closures were announced, saving tens of thousands in wastage,” explains Jelicich.

In the process, the hotel has also brought in exceptional revenue for the current trading environment. In the first four days of operating Essentials Express, sales were close to or exceeded $20,000 each day. Revenue continues on an upward trajectory as more of the local community becomes aware of the service.

Jelicich sees this a great way for hotel operators to keep their businesses going and staff employed, and encourages others to get involved.

“We believe that this is a vital role for hotels, bars and restaurants to play in serving their communities, it really is a win/win/win in these uncertain times.”

View the Essentials Express set-up here.

Tips from the Momento Hospitality team on adapting your business
  1. Think creatively: hospitality is more than just serving food and beverages in your venue – it extends to helping your community enjoy your hospitality at home.
  2. Assess you resources: You have kitchens, chefs, motivated staff and expertise – look at applying these resources differently to fit the need of the market right now.
  3. Keep the energy up: Share what you are doing with your staff and community via social to help them see that positive things are happening so they stay hopeful and engaged with you/ your business.
  4. Focus on your strengths: Every venue or operation has things they are well known for so lean-in on these. If you are known for your chicken schnitzel, then sell the crumbed chicken schnitzel along with your special sauce etc. Package it together so customers can replicate your famous recipes at home.
  5. Don’t be silly: We are still in the grip of a growing pandemic, customer safety has to be the number one concern. Wear the PPE, limit or eliminate contact and don’t flout the rules – or you could ruin it for everyone and even costs lives.
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