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Sydney Hospitality Giant Merivale Has Postponed the Melbourne Launch of Its Meal Delivery Service

The decision comes after local hospitality businesses slammed the idea, calling it "tone-deaf" and "out of touch".
By Libby Curran
July 29, 2020
By Libby Curran
July 29, 2020

Only a week after Sydney hospitality giant Merivale announced its foray into the Melbourne food scene, those expansion plans have been put firmly on hold. With 70 NSW venues in its stable, the group was scheduled to bring its newly launched delivery service Merivale at Home to Melbourne this August. But, after some less-than-enthusiastic responses from some of the city's already struggling hospitality businesses, it's decided to hit pause on a local launch for the time being, with a Merivale spokesperson telling Concrete Playground the move was "an oversight".

The platform delivers dishes from some of Merivale's most popular restaurants for diners to enjoy at home. Sydneysiders can order rotating menus from the likes of Italian diner Totti's, renowned Cantonese haunt Mr Wong and farm-to-table favourite Fred's, dropped to their door "nearly ready to eat". And Melburnians were soon to be offered the same choices via a local rollout of the service.

But given that COVID-19 restrictions and a second round of Stage 3 lockdowns have left much of Victoria's hospitality scene struggling, the interstate company's decision was called out by many as being tone-deaf. A since deleted launch announcement posted to Merivale's Instagram page drew plenty of ire from local operators. While a few fans showed excitement at the prospect, most gave it a resounding thumbs down, labelling the move "selfish and immoral" and "insensitive".

"It was a wak [sic] move and I'm glad they've pulled the pin on it," 1800-Lasagne's Joey Kellock told Concrete Playground. "Just so tone-deaf and out of touch with what is happening in Melbourne. A very poor reading of the room."

Other local hospitality names echoed the sentiment, including chef-owner of Annam and Bia Hoi, Jerry Mai. "When I first heard, I was both angry and surprised," Mai told CP. "I know we are all trying to survive right now, but there is a delicate ecosystem in this industry that was overlooked."

Mai also pointed out the potential impacts such a decision might have for local growers, farmers and producers, with Merivale CEO Justin Hemmes suggesting the Melbourne launch would support the group's existing suppliers. "I was saddened by not only Merivale's timing on this but the fact that produce from another state would be getting shipped into Victoria at this time, with our local producers doing it tough," Mai said.

What is clear is that Melbourne's hospo industry sure could do without the extra interstate competition right now. Recent data from a City of Melbourne survey showed a worrying 15 percent of inner-city hospitality businesses either won't reopen or aren't sure they'll be able to, highlighting the industry's need for as much local support as possible.

Merivale has heeded the response from down south and announced its Melbourne plans have been postponed, with the Merivale spokesperson telling Concrete Playground, "We didn't anticipate the unintended consequences of expanding into Melbourne at this time."

"It was an oversight on our behalf and as soon as we heard from some of the local operators, we hit pause and decided to hold off launching Merivale at Home until Melbourne is back on its feet and hospitality venues are open again," the spokesperson said.

A new launch date is yet to be determined. In the meantime, you can continue supporting local hospitality businesses by dining with them at home. Here's our latest round-up of takeaway and delivery options here in Melbourne.

To find out more about Merivale at Home, head to the website.

Top image: Mr Wong

Published on July 29, 2020 by Libby Curran


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