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5000 reasons to dine outdoors

By Mikaela Fowler

Frankston City hospitality businesses can now apply for $5000 grants to move their dining and entertainment offerings outdoors when stage four restrictions are eased.

Victorian Government Outdoor Eating and Entertainment Package Business Grants are available to licensed and unlicensed hospitality businesses, including restaurants, cafes, pubs, taverns, bars, clubs and takeaway food venues.

The funds can be used to pay for equipment needed to adapt businesses for operating outside, such as umbrellas, outdoor furniture and screens.

The grants follow last month’s announcement that Council would be taking advantage of up to $500,000 in funding to help support hospitality businesses as part of the Victorian Government’s $87.5 million Outdoor Eating and Entertainment Package.

As well as enhancing outdoor dining opportunities, this funding will help Council streamline permit processes, so hospitality businesses can get back to work quickly and safely.

Frankston City’s 655 hospitality businesses, employ about 2862 people and have an annual turnover of more than $345 million.

Council CEO, Phil Cantillon, said the sector’s success was vital to the health of Frankston City’s economy.

“After so many tough months, things are looking up and we are committed to supporting our hospitality venues to get back on their feet,” Mr Cantillon said.

“A big part of this will be moving dining and entertainment outside into the open air and our residents and traders have a real appetite for this exciting prospect.

“That’s why we’ve established an Outdoor Dining and Entertainment Taskforce, including a team of precinct officers who are reaching out to café and restaurant businesses, providing support and helping identify outdoor dining opportunities available to them.”

Mr Cantillon said Council was finalising its system to streamline outdoor dining permit processes and exploring activation opportunities such as turning streets, carparks and footpaths into vibrant dining and entertainment areas.

“We’re all looking forward to having outdoor dining back on the menu when stage four restrictions are lifted and do this safely, we need as much space as possible and for the outdoor environments to be practical and eye-catching.”

Owner of 38 South in Seaford, Jim Derzekos, is finalising his grant application and plans to increase his restaurant’s outdoor dining space. He said Council’s support had been invaluable.

“This assistance is very welcome. I’ve worked in hospitality for 30 years and business support like this wasn’t available in other areas where I’ve had restaurants,” Mr Derzekos said.

“I’ve been in touch with the Business Concierge to talk about marketing ideas and they offered me their mentoring program. I also put in an application for COVID relief.”

Mr Derzekos said a Precinct Officer was helping him finalise the permit application to extend the outdoor entertaining area for dining.

“We want to create more space on the footpath and see if we can get room for 15 to 20 people ─ we’re hoping to use the grant for umbrellas, a windbreak and furniture.”

38 South opened in Seaford a year ago and has adapted its service to takeaway and delivery during the pandemic.

“The first six months were enjoyable, building up the business and establishing ourselves but obviously the last six have been challenging.

“We’ve been improvising and done well with coffee and non-alcoholic beverages but on the other end, our food and alcohol sales have taken a hit and overall we’re down 40 per cent,” Mr Derzekos said.

“We’re a family business and we’re surviving though. There are some challenges coming so far as staffing and preparing new menus for summer. It is difficult getting ready to reopen but we’re hopeful.

“When we opened back up mid-lockdown, for that month back in in June, it was quite busy, even though we were restricted to 20 patrons per area. People were happy to book and be seated at any time we had available.  Now with restrictions being lifted for dining coming into summer, we expect to be busier!”


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