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‘I’m not sleeping much’: Luke Mangan searches for solutions as thousands of hospitality workers laid off

Published: (Updated: ) in Australian News by .

Mangan has revealed the devastating impact COVID-19 has had on Australia’s hospitality industry as doors to restaurants, pubs and clubs close.

Restaurateur Luke Mangan is desperately racking his brain for ways to keep his businesses operating as the coronavirus outbreak deals a punishing blow to the hospitality industry.

The acclaimed chef, who runs Luke's Kitchen, the Glass Brasserie, the Coast Cafe & Bar, the Bridge Bar, Chicken Confidential and a number of restaurants onboard P&O Cruises, said the impact to staff has been devastating.

He has been forced to shut the doors to each of his premises as the government restricts trade to only essential services.

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Celebrity chef Luke Mangan

"There's a lot of young kids from apprentices to waitstaff – it really affects them," Mr Mangan told

"And beyond that there's suppliers, producers who just grow products for us and our businesses that don't necessarily go to supermarkets."

Yesterday fellow restaurateur and chef Matt Moran was forced to lay off hundreds of staff, telling them in a heartfelt message how their services have made a difference.

"Our story is nothing without the people who we have worked with for so many years," said Mr Moran in a statement with his business partner Bruce Solomon.

"From the chefs and waiters to bar staff, cleaners and support staff, every single one of our staff members has played a part in making our places what they are - some of Sydney and Brisbane's much loved restaurants and bars."

Celebrity chef Matt Moran

For Mangan, while the solutions to the COVID-19 crisis aren't clear, the mission is: innovate in a way that hospitality workers can still service their guests.

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"The follow on from all that is that there is clearly no jobs out there in hospitality but I know I am and many others are thinking of ways that we can create things to keep people employed somehow or some way," said Mr Mangan.

"Let's put it this way – I'm not sleeping much – because I'm thinking a lot."

Chef Luke Mangan talks about his Liquorice lime dessert

From home delivery to portable meals to food packs, everybody in the hospitality industry is racking their brain to keep the burners on.

"We need to be thinking ahead, about how we can create revenue which creates jobs. I know there's a lot of us out there searching for a solution for how we can get around it."

"If we can't open the doors and serve product, we can't give jobs."

When the restrictions pass and people flock back to Australia's world-renowned food scene, Mr Mangan believes it will be quite different to what it once was.

"I don't have that crystal ball but I think when it does open up it's going to be a slow start. I don't think people will rush into things," said Mr Mangan.

"Even when all of this is gone and done the restaurant world is going to be a different space. People are going to change towards eating out, hygiene, everything."

Melbourne, Australia

The Australian Hotels Association has labelled the government restrictions as the most unprecedented challenge facing the hospitality industry in peace-time history.

"This move is already having a devastating impact on our direct national workforce of 250,000 and our millions of patrons," said AHA National CEO Stephen Ferguson.

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"We saw what an important role hotels play in their communities during the recent bushfires across large parts of the nation - today's closure is an unprecedented move which will have a big social impact for months to come.

"Our hoteliers, their families and staff are obviously devastated – we are doing all we can for them.

Restaurants are struggling with COVID-19 panic

"Obviously this closure comes at a huge financial cost - many on-going bills will still need to be paid by mum and dad operators while the pub is not able to trade and have any income."

A website run by union Hospo Voice named "I lost my hospo shift" currently estimates more than $1.5 million worth of wages has been lost this week alone.

Source: 9News

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