Looking for ways to innovate and survive, two of Geelong’s hospitality veterans have joined forces

Looking for ways to innovate and survive, two of Geelong’s hospitality veterans have joined forces

Pistol Pete’s pop-up at Cartel Roasters is the best collaboration we’ve seen all year

Over the last few years, the Little Malop precinct has gained notoriety in Geelong for becoming something of a mini Melbourne with its sneaky laneway restaurants, trendy cafes, stylish bars and all kinds of odd little miscellaneous stores sprinkled in-between.

In last six months, with the government enforcing strict social distancing, isolation and caps on venues, this blossoming precinct has felt the effects of the decline in foot traffic and the inability to operate as a destination, directly impacting all the local businesses we know and love.

Despite the drastic staff cuts and an unprecedented downturn in trade, Geelong’s hospitality workforce has been proving how resourceful, supportive and proactive it can be since Day 1, especially Pistol Pete’s Food n Blues owner Pete Raimondo.

Initially closing for three weeks at the very beginning, Pete responded to the Covid-19 threat by ramping up their take-out and delivery services, continuing to bring the flavours of southern Louisiana to customers.

With the food side of the business going strong, Pistol Pete’s began live streaming blues musicians twice a week before being able to host intimate gigs inside the venue back in June and July, before the second wave. While live music only experienced a brief comeback, Pistol Pete’s was recently successful in being one of the 106 Victorian live music venues successful in receiving funding from the Victorian Government, designed to assist the scene reopening once restrictions ease.

While the return of live musicians to the Pistol Pete’s stage is still in the throes of being organised, Pete has continued to adapt to the ever-evolving pandemic, continuing to reinvent the business and recognising the need to do things differently.

A strong supporter of the local foodie scene, Coffee Cartel’s director Nathan Johnston was keen to jump on board, offering a pop-up space at their well-loved roastery site in Breakwater. From here, Pistol Pete’s will be dishing out lunchtime Southern Feasts from 11am through to 2:30pm Tuesdays to Friday.

Launching on Tuesday, October 6, customers will be able to order online through ‘Cinch’, or in-store with pick up at the Breakwater location, embracing the bustling lunchtime trade on that side of Geelong.

“Lunchtime trading in the city has dwindled quite a bit cause nobody’s working in the city, with all the offices and shut down and everyone working from home,” Pete explains. “It’s a busy lunchtime trade in that industrial area, so this will give us better reach, with the ability to cater to the East, including Newcomb, Leopold, and St Albans Park.

“This will take some of the pressure off the city store and then we can focus on people in the venue and service more of the West side of town. We’re just wanting to share the love, and grow the love, of the business in this time.”

As for what’s on offer, customers will be able to indulge in all the best bits from the venue, including the Mojo Burger, the triple cheeseburger, a range of Po’Boys, pulled pork roll, chicken ribs, Jambalaya balls, traditional Gumbo, and even the mouth-watering chicken and waffles, or chicken and shrimp box. The flavours are so authentic, you’ll feel like you are right in the middle of the Southern States – minus the travel fare.

While we can’t head in and enjoy a Southern feast while listening to some of the best blues in the state like we used to, seeing one of our favourite venues adapt in new and creative ways to survive is probably the next best thing.

“Once music sort of kicks back in and then the city venue can focus on what it needs to do,” Pete adds. “It’s hard at the moment. We haven’t got that population in town at the moment, but having this pop-up option out in Breakwater, it helps us to grow in a time when it’s harder just to grow where we are in the one spot.”

You can find the Pistol Pete’s pop-up at Coffee Cartel Roasters, 21 Leather Street in Breakwater. Visit pistolpetesfoodnblues.com.au for more info.