Fine dining fun at home as restaurants pivot in the pandemic

9 October, 2020
Totti's Bondi Outdoor Dining

Eating out at restaurants, from casual to fine dining, has become part of the Australian way of life. But the pandemic has interrupted that in a big way for consumers and thousands working in hospitality. 

That’s meant we’ve all been cooking more at home in 2020. And cafes and restaurants have been forced to change their business models and cater to the new normal.

Like Mike Eggert at Totti’s in Sydney. When the pandemic hit, he had to close the doors. But Totti’s was able to pivot and offer restaurant quality food home delivered as part of Merivale at Home. We tried it and loved it! 

So in this episode of the podcast we chat to Mike about how he coped with closing his doors less than 3 months after the official opening. Plus find out why this fine dining delivery service has been so successful and what inspires one of Sydney’s favourite chefs.

It’s all in this episode of our award-winning home, lifestyle and interior design podcast At Home with Lauren Keenan. Stream the show here now or listen and subscribe in your favourite podcast app like Spotify or Apple Podcasts so you never miss an episode. 


For under $100, Merivale at Home delivers a beautiful multi-course Italian meal from Totti’s. It includes Totti’s signature wood-fired bread, antipasti and burrata, two pastas, salads and a dessert. 

The food is fine dining standard. And it’s beautiful and easy to prepare. But Mike told us that he wanted to create a great experience too. 

“It wasn’t about reheating a spaghetti. It was about having family and friends near you in a time of real hardship and doing something fun. We made it so anyone could do it and at the end they were really proud,” he said. 

“The messaging that went out with the packages was ‘get your best crockery out, get your best plates, put some flowers on the table, dim the lights and make this a really great experience’”. 


Mike says they were hard hit earlier in the year and had to respond.

“We were riding the high of a new opening with really good press. It’s a really rare time. You only get the first three months of a restaurant once. It’s just the best time. 

“I just remember one Friday was really busy and then the Saturday was OK. And then Monday, the city was a ghost town. It was before the lockdown became official. It was something I’d never seen before.  

“As a whole, yeah it’s been really tough. I’m really lucky to work with Merivale. They were just so quick to respond, really using great foresight and thought to come up with things that would move the needle and create as many jobs as possible. 

“We’ve been really lucky to skirt around the edge of disaster. I’m really fortunate to run Totti’s. It’s proven to be such a crowd-pleasing local and regular’s favourite. Those people just supported us through everything and they were fantastic.”


Merivale, like many other restaurant groups, has also been selling fresh food boxes with recipe suggestions from Danielle Alvarez from Fred’s in Paddington

“That was a really great way for us to support our suppliers,” Mike told us. 

“Those boxes don’t make Merivale much money. It was just more about acknowledging the fact that on the other side of this, if we don’t support our fruit and veg suppliers, our meat suppliers, our fish suppliers, they’re not going to be there. 

“They’re part of our family. They’re part of what we do. They make our business be able to run. We hope that we’ve been able to help them. People have really loved them and they’re great value.” 


Our interior stylist Lauren Keenan has spoken to Merivale’s interior designer Amanda Talbot in a previous episode of the podcast. Plus, they spoke about the styling secrets of Sydney’s bars and restaurants and her unique approach to interior design.

Every venue has its own story. And that’s part of what makes the experience at their restaurants so special. Lauren and Amanda caught up (back when the show was called the Find it. Style it. Podcast) to talk about those amazing venues and her design processes.


Here are the links for Lauren’s Lovely List recommendations in this episode:

  • Watch Emily in Paris on Netflix for some fun fashion in the show from Sex and the City creator Darren Star. 

And check out Scott’s Instagram travel series to see his favourite travel pics for some inspiration while borders are closed. Tag your fav holiday posts with #travellingmanau

In this episode we update you on mortgage interest rates, how the federal budget is helping first home buyers, and Lauren talks through the difference between inspiration and imitation in interior design after a recent controversy on Channel Nine’s The Block


This episode of the podcast is supported by leading Sydney real estate agent Ercan Ersan, who you can trust to connect you with the property that’s right for your lifestyle. 

Our award-winning interior design podcast, hosted by Sydney interior stylist Lauren Keenan, is now in its fifth year. Lauren and Producer Scott are helping you adapt to new ways of doing things during the pandemic. And we want to keep helping you create a home you love.  

Upcoming guests on the podcast include cookbook author and writer Olivia Andrews from Marley Spoon and Grace McBride from Spend with Them.   

Get in touch if you have a topic you want us to talk about on At Home with Lauren Keenan. Rate and review the show on Apple Podcasts and subscribe in your favourite podcast app like Spotify or iHeartRadio so you never miss an episode. 

And if you want to hire Lauren to help create your perfect home, whether it’s building, renovating or just updating your favourite room, email

Find out more about the services offered at Lauren Keenan Home and check out Lauren’s portfolio of work for some inspiration. And thanks for listening!

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