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You’ll find me in the mountains…

Posted: 1pm 15 May 2020

Moreton Bay Region residents will soon be able to enjoy their coffee, café treats, and even restaurant meals in-store, with easing social restrictions allowing a limited number of patrons in a venue at the one time.

The news comes on the back of a stabilising in the number of new and active COVID-19 cases across Queensland, and some businesses being given the green light to ease back into more ‘normal’ levels of operation.

It’s a welcome relief for local hospitality operators, including Café in the Mountains at the picturesque Mount Nebo.

From stocking grocery staples to offering takeaway options, Café in the Mountains has really thrown a lifeline to Mount Nebo residents throughout the COVID-19 crisis, proving it’s ‘the little café that could’.

Adapting to a new normal

Before COVID-19 and social distancing, Café in the Mountains was a purely dine-in café-style business, which operated during the day.

As owner Sarah Kanowski explains, its main income was generated on weekends by day-trippers, push bikers, hikers and tourists coming up from the city to explore the beauty of the D’Aguilar Range.

When COVID-19 concerns hit the region, these numbers changed dramatically, with outside visitation down and local buyers becoming the primary market.

“Since COVID-19, and especially during lockdown, we had a drop of 80 percent of weekend business,” Sarah says.

“As a result, we changed our focus on the local community and introduced takeaway dinner options twice a week, and stocked grocery items which temporarily weren’t available at supermarkets,” she says.

Some of these staples included flour, yeast, rice, pasta, milk, cream, and butter – a real helping hand for those living in Mount Nebo and Mount Glorious.

“I used my wholesaler to order bulk and distributed it to the local community, and was even able to beat the supermarket prices.”

Much more than ‘just a café’

If there’s one thing COVID-19 has shown us, it’s that the Moreton Bay Region has the ability to pull together and get through the tough times.

Supporting local is not a new concept for Café in the Mountains, but COVID-19 did present new ways to unite and reinforce the importance of collaboration (even in isolation).

“A company called ‘Fresh Local Provisions’ uses the café as a drop-off point for their vegie boxes for local customers,” Sarah says.

“We also sell local craft and art products at our café, and use locally-grown produce like bunya nuts or limes if there is a surplus in the community.”

The ability to “go for a walk and grab some milk” instead of heading into the city has no doubt made life easier for those self-isolating or working from home up the range.

But it’s not just the necessity of groceries and food products that is a point of a difference, it’s also the social aspect and atmosphere of the café.

“It’s a meeting point for locals, where people can connect,” Sarah says.

“Also, only local kids work at the café, which is quite convenient for them and their parents given the location and lack of public transport up here,” she says.

A local favourite & social hub

Mount Nebo resident, Lucy Clare Francis, says Café in the Mountains is a prime example of a business “showing resilience, adaption, and support for the local community.”

In her glowing review to Moreton Bay Tough, Lucy says that the business “refused to give up” when things became more serious and a lockdown was implemented across the southeast.

“They changed to takeaway meals with different hours, and strong social distancing measures for ordering and pickup,” she says, noting that the business has always acted as a social hub for people to meet and chat.

Lucy goes on to say that Café in the Mountains quickly became an important source of products for those in need.

“From a café, they have become a local store, buying what people ask for and need at very reasonable prices, so locals didn’t need to travel unnecessarily.

“It has not been an easy time, but this business has done an amazing job staying afloat and helping the community.”

Brighter outlook

With travel restrictions easing within Queensland, Café in the Mountains is looking forward to a pick-up in the tourist trade.

“We had our two busiest weekends just the after the travel restrictions were eased and, as we are in the 50km radius of Brisbane, this was one of the go-to places for many,” Sarah says.

“I expect numbers to normalise and drop again from next weekend on, as more premises will be back trading and people can travel further,” she says.

In promising news for hospitality businesses across the Moreton Bay Region, cafés and restaurants will soon be able to allow 10 people dining on the premises as part of the Queensland Government’s roadmap to easing restrictions.

As announced by Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk MP earlier this week, from 11.59pm on Friday, 15 May, dining in at restaurants, pubs, clubs, RSLs and cafés for a maximum of 10 patrons at one time will be permitted as part of a gradual reopening.

For Café in the Mountains, this means it will open up its back deck (complete with stunning views and relaxing atmosphere) from Saturday, 16 May.

You must book ahead to secure a spot, and some dining duration limits may be enforced during peak times and on weekends.

For more details, contact Café in the Mountains via Facebook or phone on 3289 8110.

Share a business success story

Do you know a Moreton Bay Region business going above and beyond to not only keep their doors open, but help support the community? Get in touch and let us know!

Discover hidden hinterland gems

Bayside or hinterland? Flip a coin and you’re sure to be impressed whichever side it lands.

If you are planning on getting out and about to explore hidden hinterland gems or experience bayside bliss, why not check out these great spots.

From Saturday, 16 May you will be able to travel 150km from your home for day trips. However, responsible social distancing of 1.5m still applies, and people are advised to stay at home if unwell.

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