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How the NZ hospitality industry is emerging from COVID-19

After COVID-19: How NZ’s hospitality industry is bouncing back | Prospa NZ
COVID-19 has disrupted New Zealand's hospitality industry. Hear how a number of businesses are navigating this new normal and operating with social distancing measures in place.

We checked in with four small businesses to see how they’re faring and what they’re doing differently.

Less is more – simplifying menus

Steve Logan, Managing Director of Wellington restaurant Logan Brown, took advantage of the March/April lockdown to simplify the restaurant’s menu.

“It means we’ve cut down on production costs and deal with fewer ingredients. It makes service a lot simpler as well. And it takes less time for customers to make their choice and finish their meals,” Logan says.

“We turn tables over more quickly now but are really happy to still get the same average spend as we did pre-COVID-19. It’s like we’ve unhooked the trailer and we’re burning along the motorway as opposed to being bogged down by extra services and a complex menu.”

To stay on top of waste and prep, Julie Clark, co-owner of Floriditas, a café and restaurant in Wellington, chose to simplify her menu too.

“We were preparing for what might be erratic patronage,” she says, “But it has actually been much busier than I thought it would be. We’re still taking each week as it comes and running things as tightly as we can.”

Contact tracing builds customer confidence

Glenn Peat is COO of Go To Collection, owners of the restaurants Rata, Madam Woo, and Hawker and Roll. He stresses that, while doors are opening again, it’s no time to be complacent, particularly when it comes to ensuring the health and safety of staff and patrons.

“With table service restaurants, we make sure we get peoples’ details when they make a reservation, and all walk-ins are also logged in the system for contact tracing,” he says.

“We want to know we can contact them if any cases of COVID-19 are identified at our premises, plus they get a sense of peace of mind knowing we have their best interests at heart.”

Cleanliness and safety take centre stage

With good hygiene practices a COVID-19 necessity, most top restaurants haven’t just upped the cleaning and sanitisation, they’re making sure patrons actually see them cleaning.

They’re also extra vigilant when it comes to staff. Rebecca Smidt, co-owner of Auckland restaurant Cazador, says, “We’ve always had high standards of hygiene, but we’ve taken to heart the government’s message: if you’re sick, stay home.”

Peat agrees. “All the restrictions might be lifted but we’re going forward with best practice. And we’re being very strict with our staff members and any guests showing visible signs of sickness.”

Online deliveries are here to stay

As is the case for many other industries, the virtual world has been somewhat of a savior for the hospitality industry.

“Prior to COVID-19, we were in the process of fitting out a new deli space next door to the restaurant,” Smidt says. “But when COVID-19 happened, it was very frightening. So instead, we launched the deli online. As a result, while the restaurant didn’t have any income, the online deli helped to get us through.”

While the online deli was a great way to see them through the tougher times, Smidt was very thankful to discover patrons still loved an offline treat.

“We have a very strong local following and the community has really rallied around us. Now that the restaurant is back up and running, and because the borders are closed and nobody’s travelling, people are happy to treat themselves at local restaurants with the money they’re saving on international travel.

“Every day we progress with caution, but still find ourselves in an optimistic position.”

Logan Brown also opted for online ordering and delivery during the lockdown, something they wouldn’t have considered before the pandemic.

“We’re keen to keep it going,” says Logan. “It’s fun and convenient for people, and they don’t have to pay for a babysitter or a taxi to enjoy a beautiful meal at home.”

Does your business need help getting back on its feet, so it can show 2020 who’s boss? At Prospa, we provide small businesses across New Zealand with small business loans to suit a variety of growth and cash flow needs. Call our team on 0800 005 797 or apply online.

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