This week the Sydney Morning Herald published a ‘food lover’s bucket list‘ – a list…
Farewell Canberra Eats. You saved us from our own cooking…
It is not often that an entrepreneur closes their business with a smile on their face. But hospitality veteran Chris Hansen, the mastermind behind Canberra Eats, is proud to announce he is shutting up shop—for all the best reasons.
Canberra Eats was born out of necessity when Canberra’s restaurants were suddenly shut down in March due to COVID.
Chris leapt into action, knowing that if he didn’t help find a way to keep local restaurants and their staff afloat in the short term, they would never survive into the longer term.
In just six days, local delivery service Canberra Eats was established—thanks in large part to Chris’s high school mate/IT wizard Spero Cassidy who built the website and ordering system. By early April, Canberra Eats began delivering restaurant-cooked meals to homes, using out-of-work wait staff as delivery drivers.
The service did a roaring trade over last six months, servicing 40 restaurants delivering 2000 meals and also catering for a number of dinner parties.
Chris took his last deliveries over the weekend, saying Canberra’s restaurant scene looked in good shape and diners were happy to venture out once more.
Chris said it was time he recovered from the 4am starts and got back to his core recruitment work.
He paid tribute to the industry for staying stoic and to the city for getting behind the idea and giving a helping hand to restaurants which found themselves in dire straits.
“I just want to say thank you. Mainly to the customers who have supported the local industry and allowed us to create jobs. As our margins were so much tighter than the big players, we relied on a bit of volume. We were determined to create a premium product and just help people through this crazy time. I think that we have done that.”
He knows that he helped pump some extra revenue into many local venues at a time when they had little else coming in and created the equivalent of 15 jobs.
“The early period between April and June was the toughest and I believe that we helped a lot of venues survive such an unprecedented time. By charging half the fees of the multinationals, we also gave them better margins and they were thrilled to also be supporting the industry drivers that we employed at that time.”
During its peak, Canberra Eats was doing 150 orders in a week at an average of $98 each. The busiest night was 80 orders with nine drivers on the road.
This, Chris admits, was the only night in six months that Canberra Eats actually delivered one order late—luckily it was for a good mate of his.
The business was so busy that instead of employing displaced hospitality staff who started returning to work by mid-June, Chris had to recruit drivers from other industries as well.
“Unfortunately it has been such a tough time for everyone but it was great to pay people well and have them appreciate it.”
Customer feedback was overwhelmingly positive, with some loyal customers clocking close to 30 meal orders.
When Chris announced last orders had been taken this weekend on social media, responses ranged from thanking him for the great food memories to thanking him for doing his bit for the city.
“You should be congratulated for being innovative and entrepreneurial at a challenging time for many businesses. Well done,” said one comment.
Members of the HerCanberra team were also grateful for many a beautiful restaurant meal delivered to our doors when the thought of going out again seemed a far-off proposition and we were sick to death of cooking all day and night given our families were at home.
But we have one final question for Chris.
Can he reopen if, God forbid, we have another lockdown?
“We could have the site up and running again within 24 hours. Hopefully we won’t need to, but we absolutely will if required!” he responded. Good to know Chris. And thank you.