We’re not cheap. We get it. And we own it. You may have lots of cheap meals in your life, but we ain’t one. And generally people say all kinds of amazing things about us but sometimes they say this: we’re EXPENSIVE. And if you compare us to your local pub meal, we agree. But if you put together all of the pieces of the apple pie, the whole is of a business trying to do right and stay alive.
And if you’re concerned with any of the following: global warming, the treatment of animals, fair wages, supporting low income workers, ethical business practices, supporting farmers (this list could go on), then maybe you should be asking questions of your local pub. The old adage is still true – you get what you pay for. And we’d add to this, if you’re not paying enough, someONE or someTHING is suffering.
Pricing your menu is complicated at the best of times; not only do we need to take into account our set margins that cover things like operation costs and wages but how the pieces of the menu fit together. And what our customers can spend and how we create value are key considerations. But so much of what we do around pricing sits on the head of a needle. That is, when one item is out of balance – when we’ve ordered too much stock and haven’t sold it or when one week’s (or god forbid 3) labour costs are out of whack, our profit margins go careening down that ledge. And it just seems that the challenges are endless – the constant to’ing and fro’ing between doing things right and good often sit in stark contrast to doing things that make the business money. Our pockets would be much deeper, if only we’d chuck our principles.
We realise that we have a responsibility to share this with our customers. If nobody is telling the story of what ethical sourcing and practices look like then how will consumers know what to look for?
We make sure our team is equipped with the information they need to explain why our beef rib costs $54. We educate them on the challenging environmental conditions, including droughts and floods that have sent herd levels to the lowest in decades. We tell them that free range products still only make up 3% of the Australian meat supply and that the cost for sourcing local, quality and ethical products is high. But we also tell them why it matters. What it means to the environment, their community, animals and our world, when we make the harder, more expensive choice.
But getting this info across to customers is more complicated. Some people just wanna cheaper meal. And isn’t our job to make them happy, first and foremost?
Our answer is no. Our first priority has to be to our values. It’s been our guiding light thus far and will continue to be.
Making our business profitable means being able to pay our staff, it means being able to pay our suppliers and it means staying alive. Ensuring that we’re balancing these competing demands and pricing our offerings to make a profit means the business can be sustainable. This is not about lining our accounts, but about the 50 people who count on us for jobs. It’s about the family-run businesses whom we choose to support and who rely on us for income. It’s about seeing this thing live and thrive and continuing to connect the dots of ethics and business.
Our B Corp certification drives us. It means our practices are held to the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, transparency and accountability. It’s not just a brand on our wall – it’s our purpose.
It means paying our staff public holiday rates and penalties. On any average Sunday this means our staff are paid between $28 and $34 an hour. On public holidays these are between $42 and $51 an hour. On these days we add a 15% surcharge to orders – without this we wouldn’t be able to be open and even with this, we still sometimes make a loss on these days when all the pieces of the pumpkin pie come together.
It also means that we only source local wine. We live in a wine region and we’re committed to supporting our local, independent suppliers. Yes, we can get cheaper wine from other areas but we like seeing our dollars supporting our local community and reducing our carbon footprint.
It means sourcing reused and ethical materials, from compostable and recycled take away items and using reclaimed timber in the restaurant. It means managing our waste with purpose – with water reduction and recycling initiatives.
It means challenging suppliers who tell us we should just get the cheaper meat and tell our customers it’s the other stuff. It means understanding the difference between grass fed and grain fed and why that matters.
It means being true to our principles everywhere and in every context. And doing this just ain’t cheap. Nor easy.
We are the only B Corp certified restaurant in Australia and while we love this accolade, it certainly isn’t all fun and games.
Certification in hospitality is extremely rare, and we totally get why. Profit margins in this industry are infamously slim and we’ve got so many other things to balance and manage before considering more red tape for additional certification.
But ultimately, we’re just working our behinds off trying to make all the pieces of the banana cream pie fit. And in our case, they’re just a bit fatter and yummier (our behinds too). Success is more than just a bottom line and what’s the point if you can’t feel good about what you’re doing?
And the people who want a cheap meal probably won’t visit us. While we’d like to be the place for everyone, we accept that we’re not. Thankfully, consumer attitudes are changing and people want to know more about their footprint. We hope that a customer that tells us our menu is too expensive or complains about a public holiday surcharge is open to learning about why we price we the way we do.
We’re here to be a different kind of business – one that can be proud of how it exists in the world and of the bbq trail it leaves behind as it forges ahead.