Tuesday, September 01, 2020

Calling those interested in tree change: Armidale based NERAM Launches "Come run our café" campaign.

The New England Regional Art Museum is now calling for applications from hospitality professionals with an outstanding culinary vision to operate the onsite cafe and has today launched the “Come run our café” campaign and video.

Thanks to the generous donation from Bruce and Rose McCarthy, the café has undergone renovations with a brand-new commercial kitchen now in place and an equipment fit out soon to come. The newly refurbished space will be ready at the end of September and we are now looking for fresh talent to become the operators.  

Our NERAM community knows how important the success of the café is to providing an outstanding visitor experience at the Museum. A great museum that offers a great dining experience creates a cultural and culinary destination and we think that the NERAM café has infinite potential.

Expressions of interest to be the café operator close on October 15th 2020. You will find details here. 

The above comes from the official NERAM release, but is actually fairly dry. What is it about NERAM that makes this an an attractive proposition? Why do we need you, people with skills and flair? Let me explain.

Armidale is a university city with a population of 23,000. It offers superb educational facilities, a varied life style combining metro and country, NBN to the premises connections, more sporting facilities that you can (to use an old phrase) poke a stick at. 

Armidale has more writers, artists,  publishers and intellectuals per head  than any equivalent city in the country. This leads to a vibrant intellectual life. 

Within Armidale, NERAM has a special place as the repository of some of Australia's greatest art collections including the Hinton and Coventry collections. It's openings and facilities are an integral element in city life. 

Interested? Then let's look at some nuts and bolts. 

If you take on the challenge, you have two key markets. 

Armidale autumn scene

The first and largest is the local and regional population who come to NERAM for openings, festivals such as the Black Gully Festival or just for breakfast, lunch or coffee. The second is the visitors who come from out of town as tourists, to visit family or for particular activities and who stay for a coffee or a meal. 

This includes a significant event component, making catering a major potential source of revenue.  

If all this sounds good, what might go wrong?  A bit, actually. 

To begin with, and as you might expect given my description of the city, Armidale has a large number of reasonable coffee and food places. 

As part of the museum precinct, NERAM is about a mile from the city centre. No foot traffic. While you will get some traffic from NERAM visitors, you will have to work to get locals to come to you. This will take time. 

You will also need to work with NERAM and with other bodies including the University to get people to come for events and occasions. The University has its own competitive facilities on campus, but will still cooperate in terms of special events. 

I suppose in all this that the biggest question is just how you to define your competitive edge. How do you build on the facilities and location that you have?  I suppose, and this is based on my own experience, that you localise and regionalise. The region has a plethora of wine and produce. Why not sell that as well?

I am not an expert in hospitality, but I do think that this option now presented is worth a serious look!