Without small business, we’re nothing. TheLatch— and GoDaddy have teamed up to rally behind local businesses and entrepreneurs during this unprecedented time of change.
We’re speaking to small businesses and entrepreneurs across the country to better understand how they’re adapting to stay open, how they’re keeping their community safe, and how we can support them now during this time, and beyond. We’re focused on keeping Australia open for business, even if doors are closed. #OpenWeStand
Lebanon-born Ibby Moubadder is the founder of Nour, a contemporary, Middle Eastern restaurant situated on Crown Street in Sydney’s Surry Hills.
Opened in October 2016, the aestheticly pleasing eatery (you have to see the pastel pink interiors) has earned its place as a popular dining spot among both inner-city locals and those willing to travel far and wide for the vast range of stunning dishes. Each more delicious than the last.
As a regular, I know a visit to Nour usually means a table cluttered with colourful plates bursting in rich and exciting flavour, a chilled bottle of wine perfectly matched to the spread, and a friendly smile from a server simultaneously waiting a bunch of other tables.
It’s a vibe here, and it’s been this way ever since the doors first opened some four years ago. That is, until COVID-19 hit to devastate the hospitality industry seemingly overnight.
We caught up with Moubadder to find out just how the restauranteur is coping amid the current climate, and to find out more about the ways he’s pivoting the Nour offering to ride out the storm.
Katie Skelly: Thanks so much for chatting with me Ibby. It’s a big question, but how has your business been affected by the pandemic?
Ibby Moubadder: Nour has always been about giving guests a complete experience; it’s not just about the food. So initially, it was really challenging for us to operate on a take-away only basis, adhering to those early social distancing laws.
Things only escalated from there. Usually, we would have around 20 staff members employed, and since COVID-19 took hold we’ve had to let most of our staff go, which honestly has broken our hearts.
A few members of our staff are sponsored from overseas, and those employees have not been considered in the government’s Job Seeker plans. As such, we have done everything that we can to keep those staff members employed and getting paid. We have a duty to our staff and our suppliers, but also to our greater community, and we’ve done what we can.
KS: Can you tell me more about those strategies put in place to pivot your business right now?
IM: As long as people need to eat, we will continue to cook. We built Nourish by Nour in just one week, from conception to activation. The new platform allows you to order a series of fresh meals made my Nour chefs, using the same quality ingredients with the signature Nour taste. You order as many meals as you like for the week, and your box will be delivered to your door on Monday. We’re also able to customise each order according to allergies, preferences, and dietary requirements.
We have also launched new delivered Nourish Market Boxes, and these are filled with fresh ingredients and pantry essentials like milk, eggs, pasta, bread, homemade pasta sauce, homemade hummus and labnah, and more. It’s a way for us to support our struggling suppliers and provide an alternative to over-crowded supermarkets.
KS: Wow! That’s so amazing. And these new initiatives have been working to help you maintain relationships with suppliers are keep staff employed?
IM: It’s working. It’s been working, but not really. We’re doing it and we’ll continue to do it, but it’s bringing in an income of around $3,500 a week, which for us, is a quiet lunch at Nour.
It’s a huge amount of work for the chefs, the delivery drivers, and the suppliers, for that amount of money. But we’re doing what we have to do. We’re not looking to turn a profit right now, we’re just looking to survive and help our community.
“We’re not looking to turn a profit right now, we’re just looking to survive and help our community.”
KS: It’s really admirable that you’re doing what you can to keep your staff employed and your suppliers on board. Tell me, what can we do to help Nour right now so we can come back when doors open again?
IM: Of course, we’d love to keep cooking for our community, so if you have the means and are looking to eat some delicious food, then please consider buying some Nourished by Nour meals. For a fraction of our usual costs, we can feed you seven nights a week.
In addition, please engage with our content and get the word out there that we’re working away at these new initiatives, and doing what we can to keep the lights on.
KS: Have you put any steps in place to recover when restrictions lift to make up for the business lost?
IM: My business partner and I talk about this every week. Of course, we don’t know how long this will go on for and how quickly things ever can and will return to normal. Social distancing could impact us for as long as those laws continue, so we’re focused right now on simply making it out the other side.
I think of this time as just a small chapter in a very big book. I hopeful about reopening with a bang, and I’m focused on bringing positivity and getting people excited about the restaurant again.