With Zoltar the self-quarantined fortune teller, bottled cocktails available for delivery and now an espresso bar – Low 302 has it all.
Already a popular bar and restaurant set in the heart of Crown Street in Surry Hills, owner Aref Jaroud quickly replaced the pumping sounds of live music with the whirl and splash of a coffee machine.
“Like all restaurants, for now the in-house restaurant side of the business is closed. My staff and I looked at our options and decided that the venue was in a position to transform the front courtyard into a daytime takeaway cafe, so that’s what we have done”
When the opportunity to get on board with Grinders came up, Low 302 quickly settled in as part of the family. After a tasting, Grinders Source become the coffee of choice, best suiting the relaxed vibe of the café and catering to the varied locals.
Within a week, a coffee machine was installed, and staff trained ready to hit the ground running.
“For me this was massive. Having the ability to quickly set up and provide quality coffee is the draw card that brings people in to purchase the other products we have available. It’s stuff like that which helps me get out of bed in the morning and face the day”.
Low 302 has adapted quickly to lockdown restrictions. On top of selling basic groceries and household items, Aref and staff have made the most of a generous donation of empty glass bottles by offering takeaway premade cocktails.
“Right now though, change seems to be happening at warp speed, but I think it will level off in due course. It’s hard to know what’s coming, so my approach is one day at a time, trying new things to see how it goes. I’m probably driving my staff a bit crazy, but I am always looking for ways to adapt to the changing situation”.
But the changes haven’t come without their challenges.
“Turnover went all the way to Zero for a couple of weeks. We are slowly coming back though. I was devastated that I couldn’t afford to keep a lot of my loyal staff because they were on visas and I couldn’t afford to keep them.”
With the current focus of staying open, Aref has been able to stay positive thanks to the support of family, friends and locals.
“It has been very encouraging that so many of our locals and night time regulars have been coming past for morning coffee and take away breakfast and lunch.”
Being in the Surry Hills and Darlinghurst area, it’s important to cater to a diverse range of patrons to keep them coming back.
“I think we have a couple of key attributes. We always strive for the best quality product for our customers, and good service. After all, we are in hospitality.”