Now more than ever, love your local

Now more than ever, love your local
Jeremy Vincent

Most of us take for granted our high standard and variety of dining and refreshment venues in Southbank.

They are largely kept afloat by the tourist dollar, but they also provide the vibrancy for residents of 3006 to enjoy. Without them, Southbank and Crown Promenades would be very dull places.

After weathering the COVID lockdowns, increased costs and rent, and staff shortages, our food and beverage operators are now facing the tsunami of cost-of-living effects. Across the country restaurateurs are facing another cliff of uncertainty because of declining consumer confidence and reduced spending in the community.

NAB’s Consumer Sentiment Survey for the first quarter of 2024 reveals that more Aussies are cutting back and eating out is the most common area of saving. Fifty-seven per cent of consumers spent less on dining than the 54 per cent in the previous quarter, with the biggest reduction in the 30 to 49 age group where 63 per cent had reduced disposable income because of cost-of-living expenses.

There was a “sugar hit” in F&B spending after the pandemic, as people flocked back to their favourite eateries. But it is predicted that one in every 13 restaurants across Australia may closed in the next 12 months as household belts are severely tightened until tax cuts and interest rate reductions start to loosen things up again.

Just at a time when locals and Melburnians are more than ever seeking value for money, F&B venues’ costs keep rising steadily. Restaurants have always operated on slim margins. Sometimes the difference in profit or loss on a booking is whether the group buys a coffee each at the end of the night, or a glass of wine with their meals.


F&B is a labour-intensive industry and in quiet times wages can comprise 50 per cent of costs for a business. Some F&B businesses are reporting huge rises in electricity and lifts in insurance costs by as much as 1000 percent.


I know that most people are doing it tough at the moment, especially those raising families and on fixed incomes, but my appeal to residents is to support their local eateries when they can, because it is these family businesses that contribute to the amenity of the area. Imagine if your street or block without its local café, or if your favourite restaurant suddenly disappeared from the river landscape?

Ordering-in via the delivery apps cuts deeply into the profit margins of F&B businesses, so instead, rug up and head out to your favourite venue to enjoy their food and, at the same time, interact with the staff and owners. It will boost their working day and add to your sense of community.

Make this winter more enjoyable by eating out and putting a smile on everyone’s faces. •

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