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Why I Love My Job: The Team at Australian Venue Co

We catch up with some Australian Venue Co staff to hear how the team operates and find out what motivates them at work every day. We also highlight how you can get involved at one of more than 180 group venues for your next career move.

Australian Venue Co (AVC) owns and operates some of Australia’s favourite pubs, restaurants, bars, and event spaces. If you’ve spent time in any hospitality venue in both metropolitan and regional cities, chances are you’ve encountered an AVC venue.

Melburnians will be familiar with spots such as Yarra Botanica, Fargo and Co, The Provincial and State Of Grace. Most Sydney-siders have likely had a rooftop cocktail at The Rook or taken in breathtaking views (and food) at The Winery. While other Australians from coast-to-coast have access to more than 180 AVC venues.

Because AVC is one of the country’s largest hospitality groups, we figured the employees would have great insights to share. We dropped into some of AVC’s Melbourne venues to chat to the staff, hear what they love about their roles and find out what goes on behind the scenes.

We also take time to learn about the workplace culture and unearth the perks on offer to employees. Australian Venue Co is hiring for multiple roles – venue managers, chefs, bartenders, and more across Australia and New Zealand. We find out why it’s a great time to join the team and progress in your hospitality career, no matter where you are in the country. And if you’re here on a working holiday visa, AVC can help create a sponsorship pathway for you.

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Kirra Parsons – Senior Head Chef, Middle Park Hotel

Kirra Parsons has extensive kitchen experience, working in some iconic venues such as Quay, Ezard, Vue De Monde, Gingerboy, Lume and more. After reaching a crossroads in her career in Melbourne, Parsons applied at AVC because it stood out from other hospitality groups and offered opportunities she felt would take her career to another level.

“I saw an AVC ad for The Middle Park Hotel which said there’d be business training and skills to run your own venue, and that hooked me. The culture, work-life balance and the business and learning opportunities all aligned with what I was looking for and that’s what drew me in,” she says. “Sometimes businesses will over-promise and under-deliver to attract staff, but AVC has definitely followed through on the cool aspects of the role that were advertised.”

Parsons has thrived at The Middle Park Hotel with AVC, quickly progressing to the point where she’s training younger staff in aspects of both hospitality and business management.

“I started here as senior sous chef, then after eight months, I was promoted to Head Chef. Now I’m a Senior Head Chef and I have five venues under my belt. It’s quite a lot, but it’s been fun, and I’ve never learned so much at a job,” she says. “There are always opportunities for new employees to learn skills outside their role. They can learn profit margins, business management, and skills they’ll need to run their own venue one day.”

“That’s an aspect I love about the business, you’re not constricted to one thing and it’s always changing, you’re always learning and evolving which is awesome.”

If there’s one thing Parsons has learned, she says taking risks in your career and pushing yourself to leave your comfort zone can land you in a dream role – and that’s exactly what she’s done at AVC.

“The business opportunities and work-life balance here are great – Head Chefs and Venue Managers have the option to work a 4-day week, and the progression opportunities and business-learning aspects of these roles are industry-leading,” she says.

“If someone wanted to manage their own venue one day, they have the opportunity at AVC to pick up those skills on the job. If you’re at a stage where you think you’ve done it all, there’s so much more to learn here.”

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Dylan Hewlett – Venue Manager, The Smith

Originally from Adelaide, Dylan Hewlett has more than 13 years of hospitality experience, joining the team at AVC just shy of two years ago. He says that one of the benefits of joining a big hospitality group is how well they supported employees are – particularly with everything hospo workers have endured during the last few years.

“AVC did a great job of looking after their staff during the lockdown. We made about 30,000 meals for Meals for Mates. That meant AVC staff members who weren’t working were able to put their skills to use with Job keeper,” he says. “AVC was also able to include sponsored workers in that program, which was a nice point of difference from other companies. The level of support we have here with head office and marketing is awesome.”

Hewlett has picked up several lessons with AVC – running events, designing a venue’s interior, and taking creative control of a busy south-side brunch and drinks spot have all driven him to be better. He says one of the most important lessons he’s learned at AVC is reflective of how the entire group operates.

“One of the core values at AVC is agility, which is reacting quickly to changes, whether it be a pandemic or otherwise. I’ve learned the importance of understanding a changing demographic, understanding where society is heading, and reacting to those changes,” he says. “I’ve definitely come to appreciate agility as a skill while I’ve been at AVC, and I don’t necessarily think I did in the past.”

Despite how seriously Hewlett and the group approach their roles, he says AVC venues need to be as enjoyable to work in as they are to dine in – a philosophy he strives to maintain amongst his staff.

“I try to encourage a supportive work environment here, especially dealing with young people in hospitality. It needs to be fun, and you need to make work enjoyable and rewarding for them, or they’re not going to work for you,” he says. “I’m always finding that balance of professional expectations and making the venue a fun place to work so we all have a good time, and that’s reflected in the customer experience.”

Hewlett also says the breadth of opportunities within the group means he’ll be sticking around long-term.

“The best part is, with be opportunities to move into behind-the-scenes roles if you’re proactive and apply yourself. It’s great if you love hospitality and want to stay involved in the industry from a different angle.”

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Douglas Halls – Venue Manager, Fargo and Co

Douglas Halls joined AVC 12 years ago working as a glassy, clearing empty pots and pints from tables. His hard work allowed him to move up through the hospitality ranks – advancing into a bartender role and becoming a supervisor, department manager and assistant manager before landing his current role as a venue manager at Richmond’s all-day venue and nightclub Fargo and Co.

Halls says his proactive approach to hospitality and willingness to learn was recognised by senior staff at AVC, allowing him opportunities to move up within the group.

“I’ve had a great team above me at every venue I’ve worked at. I would always push hard and ask to learn how to do things, and I was always given those learning opportunities as a result,” he says. “Over the years, people within the company realised all the abilities I’d picked up and helped shift me into more leadership positions. It’s been a lot of hard work, but I’m supported here, and it’s been worth it.”

Fargo and Co are Hall’s first venue management position, and while he’s enjoyed pushing himself, he says his experience in AVC venues and support from group management helped prepare him for the role.

“I’ve worked in a few places that go from pubs to clubs, and most of my knowledge comes from nightclubs. The club scene was easy for me, the dinner menu was natural for me, it was just the brunch aspect that I really had to get a handle on here,” he says. “The venue managers and assistant venue managers at AVC have been willing to show me how to do things. I have been proactive about what I wanted to learn, and management within the group has been happy to show me.”

Now that he’s in a senior role, Halls says he’s looking forward to training and promoting younger staff in his own venue – something he’s enjoyed throughout his career.

“At previous venues, I’ve pulled bartenders into department management roles, and even into assistant venue management roles. I’ve been able to help set their standards,” he says.

If these career pathways sound like some you’d be interested in, you’re in luck. Australian Venue Co is hiring for several different positions. You can check out job opportunities here.

Australian Venue Co also offers sponsorship pathways for visa holders. You can find out more and get in touch with the team here.

Photography: Ben Moynihan

This article is produced by Scout Jobs in partnership with Australian Venue Co.

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