Baker boxes into deliveries as COVID-19 restrictions bite
After fearing his business, Bite Me Bakehouse, was headed for a knockout punch as COVID-19 retail closures rolled out in March, a new opportunity to deliver pastries to cafes has been thrust into former professional boxer Anthony Courtney’s gloves.
The ex-NSW middleweight said his bakery is considered an essential service by the government due to its sale of bread and milk. “To stay operational, we are more than complying with the necessary social distancing and sanitation measures,” Courtney said. “We have a fulltime doorperson refereeing the social distancing measures, including keeping customers apart outside the bakery and just one customer in the shop at any time.”
With a staff of 16, Courtney is proud that Bite Me is navigating the choppy waters of COVID-19, and to date, he has retained every member of his close-knit team. The baker believes demand for coffee, pies, sausage rolls and pastries are steady because consumers are looking for ‘healthy food they can get their hands on fast.” Courtney, advises, “Plus they don’t need to deal with supermarket crowds if they want breakfast or lunch fast.”
Cafes see the value in speedier takeaway options
The need for speed has also created a new commercial opportunity for Bite Me. In April, the Mount Colah-based bakery was approached by several cafes, who are now vending its pies and sausage rolls. Courtney explains, “The cafes have realised it’s easier to move their takeaway queues faster with sausage rolls than egg and bacon rolls.” Courtney estimates Bite Me’s turnover of pies and sausage rolls has increased by 25% since March. Not bad, considering the bakehouse is supplying only a handful of cafes – for now.
With over 20 professional fights under his belt and many more amateur bouts, Courtney said his former career taught him not only how to “handle life in the ring but outside it too”.
“When life starts throwing bombs at you like we’re copping now, I can handle it, as I’ve been in tough corners before.”
Anthony Courtney’s tips for SMEs navigating COVID-19:
- Respect hygiene and social distancing measures: Cafes and bakeries selling fast food must maintain social distancing and hygiene standards.
- Continue to support your communities – Bite Me prides itself on assisting less fortunate families in the local area doing it tough. This support will continue.
- Invest in marketing in the good times and bad. We always jump at sponsorships of schools and sporting groups. Now our community is supporting us because we helped them.
- Check-in with your staff. I check in with my staff members before every shift to make sure they are OK and want to be at work.
Jo Cass from Bite Me Bakehouse
in her role as ‘Social Distancing Marshall’.
The bakehouse in Mount Colah, in Sydney’s North.