Hey there all you cool cats and kittens,
This virus is something that probably none of us were expecting to face in our lifetimes. We’re only a few months in, and already it’s obvious how changed our little city is. I remember the night that Scott Morrison announced the closures, and the collective feeling of dread throughout the industry. In the week leading up to it and the weeks following, you couldn’t speak to other operators or industry professionals without feeling like both of you were on the verge of tears. What was going to happen to us all?
For many, it was looking down the barrel of bankruptcy, insolvency, and the loss of however many years and however much energy they’d invested in their business. But for us, that wasn’t even an option. One thing that our customers don’t know about us is that we’re still waiting for Nico’s partner visa to be processed, and that one of the conditions of this visa is that neither the sponsor (me) nor the applicant (him) can have claimed bankruptcy or insolvency. So it’s not just our financial position that we were risking, or the energy and sacrifice given to our business. If we failed, we would also risk our right to share a home with each other.
So let’s just say we were highly motivated. While that motivation pulled us through the first hundred-hour weeks, we were then faced with our next challenge, one that’s almost taboo to talk about in Australia. I have a chronic mental health condition called Borderline Personality Disorder. While it’s not uncommon, it can be extremely disruptive, especially during periods of high stress and pressure. So I was expecting the first few highly productive weeks to result in a major burn-out.
What I wasn’t expecting was the boost that we’d get from our customers. So many of our frequent customers became even more frequent customers, and so many new faces also started to appear. That pressure, and that fear of what might happen, was so quickly depleted by our realisation that we weren’t being left on our own – that we had your support as well. When I’m talking about support I’m not just talking about sales, I’m talking also about the words of support, the feedback, the conversations, the wine and the gifts, and the encouragement.
We re-opened for dine-in with an extremely limited capacity of just ten patrons at a time, and again were so touched by everyone that chose us. You chose us for your first night out after lock-down, you chose us for your first reunion dinner with friends and family, you chose us for your first trip back into Brisbane since COVID-19. It’s been touching to realise that despite the complications and disruptions that everyone has been experiencing in their own lives throughout this period, you all still had thoughts to spare for us.
It is entirely because of you all that we’re still here now, and that we’ve managed to maintain all of our staff (the majority of whom are ineligible for JobKeeper and Jobseeker) throughout the crisis. So I think I can say on behalf of myself, Nicolo’, Selene, Ricardo, and Alexei: Thank you!
Restrictions have eased slightly; however, we will still be restricting our seating capacity to just sixteen to ensure that we can enable adequate social distancing in our restaurant. Reservations are suggested, and available only directly through our website. I expect that this restriction may be in place all the way through to the new year. However, now that we seem to have some sense of stability, we’ve decided to re-launch our lunch menu starting from tomorrow. Expect a shortened menu of hand-made only-at-lunch pastas starting from $15 available for both dine-in and take away.
With the COVID-19 outbreaks in Melbourne and Sydney, we’re also re-launching our Social Distancing Pasta Party packs this week thinking of those customers who are in high-risk categories or who have loved ones who are. We’ll be offering two different combinations each week – one vegetarian and one with meat. In addition to this, all of our products are available for pre-order through our online store. While you could otherwise try your luck instore, since COVID we have been selling out very quickly and consistently.
There’s not too much to update, although we felt it was important to send out this newsletter, just to say thanks to everyone out there for helping us pull through to the other side, and to get excited for all the great things the future holds for us.
Firstly, we hope that you are all taking care of yourselves and each other during this health emergency. As you’ve likely heard by now, all unnecessary places of gathering are now closed due to the COVID emergency. This means that all restaurants and cafes will be operating only in a take away and delivery capacity. We are expecting these measures to be in place for several months, and know they will be reviewed monthly. If the situation continues to worsen, we expect that stricter measures will be introduced when this measure is reviewed after a month, if not sooner.
This is a tough time for so many people, in so many different ways. Our heart goes out to our friends in hospitality that in a matter of a week have lost everything, and especially to those who have children to support and reassure during this period. I’m sure many of you are still processing what is happening.
Throughout the last two weeks we’ve been receiving an enormous outpouring of love and support from our community who have all come down to let us know that we’re not alone and night after night making it feel like business as usual. Unfortunately for our society, it has not been business as usual, and it is now absolutely essential that we all practice social distancing to as great an extent as possible. We support these new measures 100%, and while they will no doubt have a massive financial impact on us and on the thousands of people that depend on the hospitality industry for their livelihoods, it’s the right thing to do. But with that in mind I implore you all to take this social distancing seriously – stay home.
We will be doing our best to encourage people to stay indoors by doing what we in the hospitality industry do best – making it joyful. Throughout the next week, as time permits, we will be rolling out a series of new offers, specials, and programs. While the lid is still on for now, watch this space.
In addition, we will be launching our full online store this week where you will be able to buy gift cards, bulk pasta orders, and Social Distancing Pasta Party packs. We will be offering delivery, but please bear with us as we arrange the logistics of this. If you know you intend to order delivery online, hit us up with a message now letting us know your suburb, as this will help in the plan.
From the Campagnaris,
Stay safe, stay kind, stay inside <3
The festival of Carnevale is a celebration that rings out the silly season in the lead up to Lent around the world. While the name is probably reminiscent of images of scantily clad dancers in Rio, or the masqueraded Carnevale celebrations of Venice, it is a festival that is celebrated across the country of Italy in unique and often bizarre cultural customs.
However, as a Veronese, Carnevale means one thing: Venerdi Gnocolar. Every year since the Carnevale tradition began in 1531, the city of Verona – my home town – gets together on the last Friday before Lent to celebrate the humble gnocco under the guidance of the duly elected “Papa del Gnocco” (Yes, we actually vote for who will get to dress up as Papa del Gnocco each year).
To bring a little of my old home into my new home, Ripiena will be celebrating Venerdi Gnocolar on Friday, 21st of February. For the entire day, Ripiena will be serving and selling only freshly hand-made Gnocchi. While this is a big change from business as usually, obviously the quality and authenticity that are the foundation of our business practice will remain. As such, expect only the authentic sauces and accompaniments. If you love gnocchi like we do, it’s an event that can’t be missed. Come along and help us celebrate this important day with gnocchi and paired regional wines.
For a year now the team at Ripiena have been pulling up their socks six days a week with a working day that starts at 9AM and usually finishes after 11PM. When we first opened, our fit-out consisted of five tables and four bar stools and we managed every aspect of our business between just the two of us – and with ease. Throughout 2019 our business has grown exponentially, and with that growth we’ve hired and trained a wonderful team of people to help with our daily operations.
Despite how things picked up, we had always had one day a week that was quiet enough for just Nicolo’ and myself to manage. However, from the second half of 2019, and into the New Year, we’ve no longer had this quiet, manageable day. While we’ve become increasingly unhappy with the level of service that we’ve been able to provide on these days, we also cannot expect our staff to work six days a week as we have been doing for the past twelve months.
It is with this background that we have decided to close on Mondays and Tuesdays so that we will be able to provide exceptional service and quality product for each minute that we open (and also we’ll have two days off a week just like normal people).
In addition, closing on Tuesday night will allow us to open Wednesday for lunch, meaning we will now offer lunch service five days a week as we launch our new lunch menu. We will also be able to keep our doors open until 5PM to sell our fresh pasta to the public – which we are now updating the menu and ordering system for.
All the best, and we look forward to seeing you all in 2020!
Tomorrow, October 25th marks a very important day: World Pasta Day. Most Italian restaurants in Brisbane will be celebrating with special pasta menus and showcases, but as a dedicated pasta laboratorio it’s difficult to think how we could possibly praise this carbohydrate gem more than we do every day.
Nevertheless, we have decided to remain open throughout the entire day on Friday, rather than closing after lunch, and will be selling a variety of fresh, take-away cappellacci for just $3 a portion ($15/kg). Expect fillings like porcini and truffle, parmigiana (eggplant, mozzarella, and tomato), and stracciatella. This offer will be available tomorrow and all weekend, subject to availability.
Happy pasta-ing everyone!