A BENDIGO restaurateur believes a third of cafes and restaurants could be at risk of closure if they don't properly prepare to re-open under restrictions.
Finn Vedelsby, co-owner of The Dispensary, said responses to surveys from hospitality businesses indicated many would struggle in the future.
"Out of these (responses) comes some of these staggering estimates," he said. "The numbers are not specific to Bendigo but these numbers are Victorian numbers, I cant see how it wouldn't reflect on Bendigo. Given the research that has been done, there is a strong possibility that a third of cafes and restaurants will face closure. When re-opening they'll close from not being able to manage the challenges."
Basement on View is one business that has already closed for good. It operated for 10 years but decided the current environment was the right time to transition to other opportunities in life.
"The late proprietor and family matriarch Glenys unfortunately passed away three years ago and as a family we did our best to uphold her legacy and continue to provide quality service," the business said in a statement.
"The post COVID-19 operating environment will require the hospitality industry, like many others, to be able to pivot and operate in a different way."
Publican Andrew Lethlean got rid of more than 30 kegs of beer on Friday after closing The Metropolitan Hotel in late March as part of the COVID-19 shutdown.
"That's up to $15,000 worth of beer sitting around from our venues that we had already paid for. That really hurts," he said. "In regards to drinking and entertainment operations, the outlook is not good. (It's important) to look after small businesses in town, a lot are going to suffer and may not survive."
Ms Batterhams opened in February. Owner Rhianwen Seiter is positive about her business' future but said some would struggle.
"Unfortunately I think there will be (business closures). There will be businesses who can't survive," she said. "We had a fabulous opening month but we can't have the same numbers as we did pre-COVID-19."
Food and drink businesses can currently operate as a takeaway or delivery service.
In its statement Basement on View highlighted the need for the ability to operate as a takeaway and delivery outlet in the future.
"The unsustainable cost base, lack of support and upkeep of the premises and equipment in accordance with obligations under the lease, and a decline in events and lack of forward planning has made it impossible to reopen and operate given the current COVID-19 environment," the statement said.
"Any future ventures that may arise will certainly necessitate the move to online service delivery models.
"After 10 years of service to the local community, we have been extremely fortunate to have had the support of some wonderful staff members, customers, suppliers and key stakeholders."
Ms Seiter said being such a new business had been a blessing in disguise because of Ms Batterham's ability to adapt its business model.
"We were able to respond and change direction quite quickly (unlike) businesses who might have been doing the same thing for years," she said.
"It's tricky coming out of it not knowing what we will be allowed to do and making sure, when do know, how make it profitable. How can we develop an offering that meets the expectation of the Bendigo people, our clients and customers. It's super tricky."
Mr Vedelsby said he was concerned hospitality businesses wouldn't be ready to open under new restrictions.
"Reopening will take place in a difficult staffing environment, with reduced pricing and uncertain supply during a time when operators themselves will be struggling to clear accumulated debt, so will suppliers and customers. That's a challenge," he said.
"The first priority is re-staffing businesses. Our entire industry has been shut down for two months. It is naive to think all staff will return to their previous jobs. Businesses with fractured teams have to recruit and train new staff before normal operation resumes.
"Fridges have not been operating and it could take several days hard work to put a business back to a sanitary state. Menus, beverage lists and pricing has to be considered. Opportunities to attract new customers will arise - do that well and it places you in a good position. But don't deliver and people will avoid you in droves.
"If businesses are not prepared and they open, they will really struggle."
Mr Lethlean said for businesses that have been able to maintain an income, financial feasibility was important.
"The most important thing is we do come back," he said. "But it's got to be feasible in that you've got to turn over enough money.
"(If) we don't get the turnover of numbers, it might reduce turnover to extent where it is not feasible. (There is) rates, insurance and ongoing utilities costs every day that adds up to $100,000 a year for me. Where does that money come from?"
Mr Lethlean was also worried late-night venues and function centres may not be able to operate properly until a COVID-19 vaccination is found.
"The best case scenario is that in a couple months gatherings of 100 people are allowed. (For) bars and nightclubs that's going to be really tough and we don't see much light at the end of the tunnel," he said.
"That could be 12 months. It's pretty scary for businesses but hopefully the benefit to restaurants and cafes is they can get up to 100 people in."
Ms Seiter said Bendigo was a community that supported each other.
"We're all in this together and you notice Bendigo is really supporting Bendigo," she said.