Originally from Scotland, General Manager of the Aquarius Resort and The Rocks Cafe, Brad Duncan has been with the business since 2008 in different capacities. ‘I started working in the accommodation sector in 2008 – it was my first job in Byron,’ says Brad, who has a variety of roles within the job. ‘I am never bored! The diverse types of people I meet means I have to think on my feet, and offer guests an amazing experience in one of Byron’s hidden gems. It is obviously always essential to plan and prioritise, but in this industry, there are always so many variables (especially this year!).’
The Rocks Cafe is definitely a highlight of a visit to the Aquarius with delicious, rustic dishes in a beautiful setting. The meals are value for money served up by friendly, long-term employees who have built a great rapport with the locals.
Brad says the Aquarius and The Rocks are registered as COVID Safe. ‘Initially, we had to reduce our paid employees from 35 to three. We have since been able to restructure business activities, and re-hire a number of employees on JobKeeper paid positions. We have also offered any employees who were with us prior to COVID-19 accommodation onsite to help us get through this together’.
Aquarius have implemented a number of changes to safely manage this period, including, but not limited to: increased sanitisation practices in the accommodation, cafe, reception and communal spaces; COVID Safe signage throughout the resort; maximum seating capacities in the cafe and communal spaces; COVID Safe sign-in procedures; installation of Perspex shields and social distancing markings in all areas; and meetings with departments to make staff fully aware of their roles and responsibilities, while also allowing them to air any queries, concerns or suggestions. ‘We are a team at Aquarius, and want our employees to feel safe, secure and comfortable at work,’ Brad says.
The inner bar and rooftop bar are unfortunately still closed – but they are hoping to open again from Thursdays to Saturdays, from late September onward – in line with current NSW government legislation.
‘At the moment, The Rocks operates at night from Thursday to Saturday with an amazing home-made chicken dish, amongst others. It is fully licensed, and has a great 6–8pm happy two-hours with $5 basics and $10 cocktails. Thursday night is quiz night, and Friday is Live Music where we support local acts.’
Brad says they are doing their best to rebalance after recent health regulation changes. He says ‘normal’ is a distant thought at the moment. ‘We have battled through the first and second phases and remain in a position to continue to rebuild the business as the year continues. The owner has been incredibly supportive and is fighting through these times with us.’
Brad says, as they slowly reopen all areas of the venue, they are looking forward to welcoming back their supportive locals and onsite backpackers. ‘We are incredibly appreciative of our customers, and their continued support and co-operation.’
They have also just launched a new brunch menu, and have some delectable specials including a bacon and egg roll with a hash brown and freshly brewed Byron Bay Coffee for just $13, health bowls, freshly squeezed juices, and lots of other brekky dishes on offer as well.
You can find The Rocks Cafe at the Aquarius Resort, 16 Lawson Street, Byron Bay. For further info visit their website: www.therocksbyronbay.com.au.