Surf club innovates to get patrons in the door

Seaspray Surf Life Saving Club bar supervisor John Robbins invites people to grab food from one of the outlets in town and head upstairs to enjoy it with a beverage. Photos: Stefan Bradley

Stefan Bradley

With no chef in sight, Seaspray Surf Life Saving Club has had to innovate to get people through its doors to enjoy food and a drink while overlooking the spectacular beach these holiday.

A food truck parked near the club has provided a solution, helping to get patrons into the club’s bar while the kitchen is closed.

Seaspray Surf Life Saving Club bar supervisor John Robbins has worked at the club for three years.

“Previously, we had people running the bar and the kitchen,” he said.

“They left last year and we got a new guy in, and he had a lot of trouble finding a chef, then he found one and they pulled out.

“And they had another two chefs and they pulled out, and it got to the point where he could no longer justify staying here, so he moved back to Melbourne.”

October was the last time they had a chef.

“They worked one weekend and that was it,” Mr Robbins said.

“They had a job somewhere else and I think it’s a COVID thing — there’s a shortage of hospitality workers everywhere.

“And of course when you’re a bit further out, it’s harder to get people.

“When there is a shortage, of course everyone takes the best job they can get.

“Seaspray is a beautiful place to work, but it is only busy for three months of the year — this is our busiest period now.”

The Schnitz food truck has helped fill the gap, operating next to the club since Boxing Day.

“We’d love to find a chef, but right now we’re doing what we can with what we have, and Schnitz have been great, so it’s a good partnership for the time being,” Mr Robbins said.

“They helped us out in a pinch.

“A lot of families come down here, so the clientele is people wanting to have a drink with their food.”

Mr Robbins said they’d been advertising the chef job for a while, but had few applications.

“We’re looking for someone who is going to cook good food and is ready to have a go,” he said.

“And be reliable — that’s what we’re after.”

Not having a chef limits the number of patrons into the club.

“Previously we could do 400 to 500 meals a night during this busy period,” Mr Robbins said.

“But now with just drinks we have a much smaller turnover, so certainly that will impact the club’s revenue used for volunteering and competing.

“It’s our main source of income, so it’s certainly a big loss.”

There are several food options in Seaspray this summer, including from Grab&Go Kebabs & Fish N’ Chips van and Kiki Coffee on the foreshore near the Seaspray Caravan Park and fish and chips and burgers at the newly-refurbished Seaspray General Store.

People are welcome to take their food to the surf life saving club to enjoy with a beverage.

The Schnitz truck will operate from noon to 8pm five days a week (closing on Tuesdays and Wednesdays) until January 30.