Takeaway Heroes – Barry Iddles
Hospitality industry veteran Barry Iddles has weathered a crisis or two in his career but even he couldn’t predict the severity of the COVID-19 shutdown and the associated impact on his businesses, 360Q in Queenscliff and restaurant and cafe venues at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Cranbourne.
“I’ve always tried to stay one step ahead of the curve, but I’ve never seen anything like this,” he says. However, it’s about staying focused and doing what you know you can do.”
Barry and his team moved swiftly when he first heard the terms “social distancing” and “self isolation”. Together with his team at 360Q he developed a selection of takeaway dishes and heat-and-eat meals.
“The first thing we offered was a 14-day isolation pack – fresh meals delivered each Monday and Friday,” he says. “Now we’re doing gold, silver and bronze three-day meal packs (including wine) with complementary toilet paper.”
As a long-time caterer Barry is used to solving problems on the fly. When he went to deliver meals to one local customer and found her not at home he diverted to the local supermarket to buy a cooler bag and a large pack of frozen peas to keep the food cold on her doorstep.
Never short of an idea, Barry now has plans to orchestrate a pop-up restaurant on Zoom. He’ll deliver the food and wine to each of the participating households and “everyone can have a cracker of a night.” Online cooking classes are another idea. “Everyone is going to get bored,” he says. “ So let’s give them something constructive to do.”
Barry’s saving grace through the crisis? A hospitality coaching and mentoring program, Foodie Coaches, of which he’s a member, which in normal times focuses on sharing industry intel, technology tips and mentoring members through everything from accounts to operations. With more than 300 members, it’s been a source of comfort and support during this tough time.
“Having someone to talk to, knowing there are so many people in the same boat – it helps.”