Australia

Balinese restaurant offers free delivery to the immunocompromised as Melbourne reopens

“We know for immunocompromised people [reopening] is going to be really scary for them,” said Suci Ida Bagus.

“It’s almost felt Darwinian. We’ve forgotten about older people and immunocompromised people,” she said.

“I wanted to acknowledge them and make them understand that we care.”

The exact terms and conditions of the deliveries will be announced once the restaurant reopens for dine-in, with the service operating off an honour-based system.

“For us, it’s always been about the health element,” said Ms Ida Bagus.

“We have family members [in Australia] who are immunocompromised, and we’ve felt the anxiety every time the state has reopened.

“We have family in Bali who are suffering and we’ve lost family to COVID.”

A story of survival 

Warung Agus has been running for three generations, with Ms Ida Bagus’ parents first opening the restaurant in west Melbourne in the late 1980s – more than 32 years ago.

Ms Ida Bagus – who helps run the restaurant and its social media presence – said the pandemic had rattled her family. 

Suci Ida Bagus (left) and her sister Santhi Ida Bagus.

Source: @chefsanthi/Instagram


“We made Batik [face] masks, we made freezer meals to stop food waste … we had a little grocery store going on for a while with Indonesian snacks and things,” she told SBS News.

“It was just like, how can we make money? How can we keep things fun? And how can we just keep going? I think that that’s how we survived.”

As Melbourne reopens, the family will take two weeks off to ensure they are ready to resume business in a COVID-safe manner.

Ms Ida Bagus said she’s been left frustrated by the anti-vaccine sentiment that has popped up in wellness and spiritual communities. 

“People may think because we’re a Balinese restaurant that we would lean towards maybe spirituality as opposed to vaccinations,” she said.

“But Balinese priests are literally getting vaccinated.”

 

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As the state moves out of lockdown, Ms Ida Bagus hopes people are kind to hospitality workers as they navigate the new health requirements. 

“If you ever come into the restaurant, I’ll bend over backwards to give you the best experience,” she said.

“But if people come and threaten the health of our customers or my family, don’t bother coming to us for food.

“I just hope that people are kind and not just going to go there and cause trouble.”

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