As the country moves to Level Three next Tuesday some local eateries will begin to trade. While they may not be flinging open their doors, (all transactions must be contactless) this is a much needed lifeline for many. Melissa Renwick from the Eatery and Keg Room in Rototuna says “opening is a matter of survival. The overheads like rent don't stop just because we don't have an income.” Amy Hodgson from Cinnamon Café in St Andrews admits “we were in two minds what to do but at the end of the day we have bills, full stop.”
Waikato Food Inc, have been helping local food and hospitality businesses navigate the ever changing world they find themselves in from providing practical advice, to connecting businesses with the resources they need as well as building a strong campaign for the public to support local. Chairperson Mathew Pedley says, “for over six years Waikato Food Inc has been championing our local food and hospitality industry. It’s a shame it has taken a worldwide pandemic and possible economic disaster for people to see the value of this message.”
To help locals easily find who is open and how they can order the Waikato Food Inc have put together a directory of local eateries open in level three. The directory includes everyone from your neighbourhood fish n chip shop to fine dining restaurants, where you can get a pizza, some BBQ, a donut or a coffee.
Sam Immers, from The Verandah Café and the WFI board member tasked with loading everyone’s details says, “we have had over 45 submissions but expect this to grow as more eateries get their systems in place in order to open.”
“It is definitely a challenge to get going again with the health and safety protocols and the Food Control Plan needs” says Fiona Massey from Alpha Street Bar & Kitchen in Cambridge. “A takeaway and delivery model is not going to sustain the business” admits Fiona “but it will help bring some income in and keep the team working and thinking about ideas for future. This will be a permanent feature of the new Alpha St going forward. We have been forced to look at where our income comes from and just having one income stream from dining customers is not going to cut it now.”
Motivating most of these businesses are the people involved, from their employees, customers as well as the wider community. Lisa Quarrie from Hayes Common says “we have had huge support from our regular customers and the wider community throughout lockdown with messages of support, voucher purchases, wine sales etc. I guess opening is a chance to start offering something back, a sense of normality back to people. We know a lot of people hanging out for coffee!” Amy Hodgson from Cinnamon says, “we felt a responsibility to supply our community with coffee and a bit of banter to reward them for their hard efforts over the last month and we are excited to see them.”
Level Three comes with many restrictions and while eateries can provide food or that much needed night off cooking what will be missing is the key element the industry is built on – hospitality. Come Tuesday, WFI would like people to grab the opportunity to eat something you haven’t cooked at home but to make sure who did cook that meal is a local business that you want to continue to be part of community for a long time to come.
“It’s very uncertain times ahead.” says Adrian Hodgson from Texas Pete’s. “Moving forward we all need to support local throughout all industries, because I think this is the only way we are going to get through this.”