Beer bread on menu as restaurant gets creative


Does the thought of gallons of beer going to waste send shivers down your spine?

The owners of Rototuna’s The Keg Room and Eatery bar and restaurant have come up with their own creative solution to the prospect of so much waste, as beer supplies potentially approach use-by dates.

Chef and co-owner Andrew Pietersz says: “I just couldn’t face it. The idea of all that investment going down the drain is bad enough but when it’s beer, that’s a whole different ball game.”

The Keg Room and Eatery is operating a takeaway and delivery service during the next stages of the Covid-19 enforced lockdown. So, to minimise the number of litres that will have to be disposed of while they wait to welcome back bar customers, they will be adding beer bread to the menu options.

“It’s not usually something we offer but it fits perfectly with the kind of dishes we’ve chosen to put on our takeaway and delivery line-up,” Pietersz says. “Knowing our regulars, I have a feeling it’s going to be pretty popular.”

There has been a lot of talk about the need for resilience in business over the last few weeks, and those who can support that resilience with smart thinking and creativity will be the more likely to survive. Pietersz and his partner, Melissa Renwick, have had to call on their reserves more than most over the last few years.

The kitchen, bar and restaurant were severely damaged by fire on Christmas Eve 2017 and the couple were forced to close for almost six months, much of that time during their busy summer season.

“We learnt the hard way that you have to think differently about how you operate in challenging times, especially if you want to retain great staff and do all you can to be there for the customers that have been loyal to you over the years,” says Melissa, who opened The Keg Room and Eatery with Pieterz in 2013.

As their builders worked hard to refit the fire-damaged premises, Andrew and Melissa came up with ways to be able to serve thirsty customers through the 2018 summer, organising regular pop-ups on the forecourt areas outside the bar.

“Neighbouring restaurants and shops were incredibly supportive during that time,” Melissa recalls, “and the same spirit continues today, especially as we are all facing this latest challenge together.”

Like other hospitality operators around the country, the team has been planning since the levels were first outlined to work out how to reconfigure the space and menu to work within Level 3 restrictions.

“It’s not exactly been easy, with the uncertainty of guidelines developed on the fly, the stress of lease negotiations, and getting to grips with new web and app ordering options,” says Renwick. “It was really important to us to make sure we follow the rules, look after our staff and still be true to what our customers expect from us.”

Existing wait staff are being redeployed to deliver orders and the venue is set up safely for contactless pick-up.

“It’s so great to see our customers again and we’ve been overwhelmed by the support they’ve given us over the last few weeks,” says Melissa, who has been busy filming Andrew cooking some of the favourites from The Keg Room and Eatery menus for their social media pages, while also using videos to share her own extensive wine knowledge.

“There won’t be high fives or pats on the back like normal,” says Andrew, “but we hope the beer bread and their usual favourites will keep our customers happy until we can welcome them back through our doors.”


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