Jana Longhorst

The following series is filled with valuable insights from the country’s leading operators on everything from milestone moments to the impact of the cost-of-living crisis, what they’re tipping will be big in 2024, and the current staffing landscape.

Co-founder Simon Blacher covers the ease of staffing challenges and establishing brands with longevity.

The cost of living has hit all sectors of the economy. The cut on discretional spending among those who are leveraged will no doubt affect hospitality. We have met these challenges with the same philosophy that has always driven us: “The cream will always rise to the top.” We have been in the game for a while and have faced recessions and lockdowns.

Good products, good service, and good experiences will always be sought after. Even if the market shrinks, you need to ensure you are at the forefront of people’s minds. We have knuckled down on customer experience and growing our customer base through digital and organic marketing.

In addition, Commune Group has by design, multiple revenue streams and dining options across the spectrum which has to some extent protected us from the market shifts and movement over the years. The midweek market has thinned over the last six to nine months, however spending is up and the takeaway/delivery market has maintained.

People are dining out less but are happy to spend the money when they do. The opening of our seventh venue Studio Amaro is the achievement we are most proud of for 2023.

It was an idea conceptualised during the pandemic and was met with a multitude of challenges. However, we believe we have delivered an exciting dining option to the area that we are already so invested in. The response has been overwhelmingly
positive and has gone a long way to invigorating the group to keep driving.

Staffing over the past six months has been significantly easier than 2022. Across our venues, it seems to have returned to the pre-Covid rhythm. This year, we plan on reinvesting in what we already have.

Marketing is a broad word that encapsulates many forms and is something we are constantly investing in. We want to ensure our current brands are singing as loud as they can for the next 12 months.