Lakeside Club, home to Sale Bowling Club, is looking to permanently reposition itself as an outdoor dining and function space after the success of its post-COVID-19 pivot.
Club, which reopened in the middle of 2020 after the Victorian shutdown period had ended and social distancing rules were implemented, successfully created an outdoor dining space with a new menu on an existing veranda as a first step.
While it couldn’t be fully enclosed, Lakeside Club General Manager Lauren Glover said the existing table and chairs were rearranged and the space was “dressed up a bit” so people could book social distanced dining spaces.
“We’ve had the veranda here for many years but mid-last year we got the deck up and running and we changed the menu in August-September (after another lockdown) and brought in better burgers with more variety. That was and continues to be quite hot. We have also changed a few meal-deals progressively over time.”
And just because you are a small bowling club on the edge of Gippsland Lakes in country Victoria doesn’t mean you can’t have big ideas.
After discussion with the Bowling Club, it was decided an old synthetic green at the back of the clubhouse could also be better utilised for hospitality, so a temporary marquee was erected as a function space.
That marquee, which can hold 150 people, has been so successful and only takes up one-eighth of the green, so the Club is now looking at creating a larger more permanent structure on the redundant green. The three remaining greens continue to be used.
“When we started, outside dining was the main focus,” said Lauren. “But as we have quite a large area, we were not restricted as much by the distancing issues, and we didn’t have to alter our licences or gain any new permits either.
“We utilised what we had here and are still utilising it. We can fit 200 people in the main venue at any one time and our licence goes to the fence line so we are using (the space) as much as we can.”
That’s not all. Lakeside looked at all other available areas and how to best utilise them.
“We created an outside bar area which we didn’t have prior, so we have learned to utilise different areas of the club,” she said.