Photo: Tops Food was launched this week as a innovative response to the closure of the The Tops in the wake of the coronavirus crisis.

Faced with no customers, no income and a staff of more than 100, The Tops Conference Centre is responding to the challenges posed by the coronavirus with an innovative way to serve its community and keep staff employed: Tops Food delivery service.

“Like hundreds of other businesses in Australia, we’re currently going through a really difficult process of having to stand people down while trying to work our way through the process so we can come out the other end with organisational viability – which we’re confident we will,” said Peter Rumery, Catering Manager at Stanwell Tops centre south of Sydney.

“When we shut down, it became immediately clear that we needed to develop a new revenue stream to do our best to keep as many people employed as we possibly can. And, thankfully, the one we have created has enabled us to hang on to the core team in the catering department.

“There is a growing need in the community for really basic pantry items like flour and pasta, and since we already have commercial supply lines set up we can leverage those for the good of the community. We saw an opportunity to provide work for our people and also meet a new community need.”

While the normal model for The Tops is that people come to experience a place of community where they can grow and develop in relationship with themselves and God, this crisis provides an opportunity for the centre’s staff to bring who they are out into the community.

Just one week from the inception of the idea, Tops Food delivery service was launched on Monday this week through topsfood.com.au.

“Tops Food is all about fresh frozen meals and pantry essentials delivered to your door,” Peter said. “We initially launched only to our neighbouring suburbs of Helensburgh, Stanwell Park and Stanwell Tops because we wanted to show those who have supported us by being great employees over the years that they were our first priority. We sold about $1600 worth of product on Monday and are confident now that we can increase our reach and community imprint north into the Engadine and Heathcote area, and south into the Illawarra area.

“The Tops has fundamentally changed because we have no customers and it’s really psychologically difficult on everyone who is still here and on all the people we have had to stand down. A little venture like this represents a ray of sunshine in amongst a lot of dark, giving people something positive to think about so they are not feeling quite so powerless amidst the avalanche of bad news. It’s giving staff something to pin some hope on.”

                                                                                                                      By Emily Ferguson

Photo: Tops Food chef Jenny Diplas has worked with The Tops conference Centre for the past 15 years