Welcome to South Australia, or as Venue Owner of The Scenic Hotel, Alistair Wells, calls it: “the bottom of Australia”.

This is where The Scenic Hotel has been perched upon a hill since 1864 and serving locals since 1869.

“Originally the route that we’re on, because it’s the top of the hill, is where they would change their horses. What is now the front bar used to be accommodation for the publican, upstairs we have the restaurant and accommodation, and then the stables are across the road,” Alistair said.

The challenges of a huge destination venue

“We are a venue that’s outside of the CBD, even though we’re very close. We really need to treat this place as a destination venue. So you have to do things to draw people here, whether it’s the food, whether it’s the alcohol, whether it’s the garden or the live music. There needs to be a reason people come here, because we have zero foot traffic,” Alistair said.

“Our main restaurant area is up two flights of stairs, plus we service this outdoor area that’s 80m away from the bar. A normal employee could maybe walk from the end of this laneway, into the kitchen, to the top point of the balcony, and that’s a five-minute trip just to ask if someone wanted a Diet Coke.

“I was at first hesitant to look at the QR tile-type business model, but it just makes complete sense. Again, for the customer to walk in and do this stuff, and they can just sit there, spend more money, spend their time a bit more longer, rather than wasting their time going to and from. For us, it’s unbelievable.”

The reception of mobile ordering and payments

Venue Manager James Roden says me&u has been received extremely well.

“We’ve definitely noticed more upselling in terms of adding on to dishes, even if it’s simple things like aioli or ketchup on the side of your burger. All those little things count.

“I think it’s inevitable and up to the industry to embrace it. I don’t think having QR code ordering diminishes the level of service you can give, I think it just makes the process of ordering and the menu much more accessible to people. If you’re working with an online menu, you can just update it instantly. 

“We did the onboarding process with JJ and he was really helpful. Shout out to JJ Law! It’s been really easy to train staff on how to use the back-end as well.”

Leading with compassion

“I was never going to run a pub with shitty food,” Alistair said. “We have a tiny kitchen that’s been cooking meals here since 1902. But it doesn’t need to be shit, it just takes a bit more time, and a bit more thought.

“I got taught this early on: treat everyone on their own merit. You have no idea what’s happened to a person before they’ve walked in. I think we do enough things to alienate people anyway. Be as beautiful, and as understanding, and as compassionate to all people who come through. 

“We’re coming up to our three-year anniversary, and with the cost of living pressures and stuff and we’re still here for the long haul. In all businesses, you have to see ups and downs.”

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Mr Yum x me&u = Better together

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