On the 16th of March 2020, Rustic Pearl changed its direction. In light of the pandemic unfolding globally and the news of many restaurants changing their operation to cater for a public lockdown we knew that the hospitality industry was going to soon be affected.
On this day, we decided that the cosy dine in brunch operation we had offered since 2012 was no longer a sustainable mode of business. Takeaway was inevitable but our menu which was popularised by the famous Bay Lobster Benedict was best served in house plated with love and care.
There was also the global health warning informing us about the rapid spread of COVID-19 in all its microscopic droplets, from mouths and noses to hands and surfaces; in any public arena cross contamination abounds.
We closed shop, educated ourselves on the virus – thanks to the NSW Health education portal – and pivoted to promote Turkish style street food from the window of our Gypsy Caravan.
Over the next two weeks the intensity of each day felt almost cinematic as we were observing the changes taking hold both socially and economically.
Suppliers were running out of stock, supermarket shelves were empty, face masks were becoming normalised and there was an underlying anxiety about what was beginning to unfold.
We completely cleared out the shop, sanitised all surfaces, dismantled our tables and securely packed away our dining equipment. From this point, we began minor floor plan renovations to ensure that with limited staff we could manage with a small menu and takeaway coffee.
By the end of March we reopened our front window ready for Surry Hills in lockdown.
Every day we worked from the crack of dawn till late into the night rebranding our business model, baking, painting signs, writing boards and installing equipment in order to simplify the workflow to be more efficient.
The environmental impact of a shift to takeaway made us reconsider our waste management. We changed all of our takeaway packaging and disposables to be ‘compostable only’ and we implemented industrial composting into our kitchen.
We experimented with our menu, taking elements of Rustic Pearl’s favourite flavours such as bay lobster and developed affordable street food such as the Mini Lobster Bun, Grilled Fish Baguette, and Plant Based Vegan Lamb Wrap to redefine our ‘new normal’. An ongoing evolution, Rustic Pearl’s pivot to Gypsy Caravan was out of survival in economic uncertainty and we continue to focus on quality street food and sustainability in all facets of our operation.
We would like to thank our loyal customers for the continued support of our changes through this challenging year.
Felicity and Timur Celik