The hospitality industry was one of the hardest hit during the pandemic lockdowns, with multiple restaurants turning to takeaway and other options for survival.
And while many have now refocused on bringing diners back to their doorsteps, a Covid pivot to eat and serve meals by the team behind the Botanical Hotel in Melbourne’s South Yarra has now become a national brand.
South Yarra Deli was established in 2020 with the local community and regulars in mind but its popularity grew rapidly in Victoria and now the range of meals has been launched through food retailers across Australia
Botanical Hotel owner and founder of South Yarra Deli, Rabih Yanni, has been active in the hospitality industry for nearly three decades, including bayside pub The Point Albert Park Lake. His right-hand man in the new venture is fellow veteran Alastair Dobbs, most recently national head of retail for Nomad Coffee Group.
Botanical Hotel chef Sam Hopkinson helped develop the meal options for South Yarra Deli as the best alternative to eating in a restaurant.
The menu features classic comfort dishes such as beef bourguignon, chicken, leek & mushroom pie, tuna mornay and apple crumble, and even a vegan shepherd’s pie also offers a delicious meat-free alternative and there are plans to expand the vegetarian and vegan offerings.
“To be able to bring an element of Botanical’s fine food into your home not only gives me pride, but also comfort, knowing we are nurturing those who crave ease in their busy lives,” Yanni said.
The meals come in 350 gram portions and can be prepared in a few minutes in the microwave. They sell for $15, but will be offered as part of the national launch for $13 for the first month of the rollout.
Dobbs is proud to have created a new national food brand out of such testing time for the restaurant industry.
“Bringing the elusive understanding of what makes a dish appealing and an innate knowledge of a guest’s dining experience is what makes South Yarra Deli a special addition to store shelves,” he said.
South Yarra Deli’s meal retailers include: Ritchie’s IGA, National; Reddrop Group, Victoria; Romeos Retail Group, South Australia & NSW and Kelly Group, Western Australia.