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Restaurant Association of New
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kitchen products
Restaurant Association of New
NZ Chefs Association
Hospitality Business

Inland Revenue waives tax penalties

The  Inland Revenue will write-off any penalties and interest for businesses unable to pay taxes on time due to the impact of COVID-19.

“Don’t worry about contacting us right now. Get in touch with us when you can,” says an official spokesperson..

In a press release the Inland Revenue provided the following advice for businesses and tax agents:

“We’re working hard to provide essential services for business and individual customers during this stressful and difficult time. Payments, including Working for Families customers, will still be made.

“To help get correct payments to people we would like employers to still file their returns as normal. This helps us work out the right amounts for people and helps the Government continue to respond to what is happening in the economy.”

Contacting IR During the lockdown

“IRD’s phone services will be severely limited and the most effective way to contact us, will be online and through myIR. Within Inland Revenue, all front office services are now closed and almost of our staff are working from home. 

“Inland Revenue is still working on all critical matters related to tax entitlements and payment obligations. We know these are matters causing real stress and uncertainty and we are working urgently to provide as much certainty as quickly as we can.

“Please use our online services to contact us – preferably through your myIR account. We have information on our website

“The Ministry of Social Development (MSD) is the government organisation responsible for the administration of the wage subsidy. Any questions relating to how and when it is administered should be referred to MSD. There is more detail at

Wage subsidies

“Inland Revenue has some tax-related guidance for employers about the wage subsidies.

“It is important employers pass on the wage subsidies to workers and process them as part of the employee’s normal wages. All deductions (such as PAYE, KiwiSaver and child support) should be made as normal.

“If the total wage (the subsidy plus the employer funded pay) amounts to the same wages as previously, the pay and deductions on their payslip should be the same.

“Employers won’t be liable for income tax or GST on the subsidy received from MSD and will not be entitled to an income tax deduction for wages paid out of the wage subsidy.”

Payment options

“As we’ve already said, if a business is unable to pay its taxes on time due to the impact of COVID19, we will understand. Get in touch with us when you can and we’ll write-off any penalties and interest.

“If a business can pay there are several options – with internet banking or using myIR are the easiest.

“Businesses can also make credit card or debit card payments over the phone or set up direct debit payments through their myIR account. For further details on alternative ways to pay your tax see:

“Only some Westpac branches will be open one day a week, on a Wednesday, during the COVID-19 lockdown. Customers who can pay their tax bill at their local Westpac branch will be unable to do so until they can visit a branch on it’s open day. For more information on Westpac’s new branch opening hours please visit:

Instalment arrangements

“We’re enabling more flexibility and lowering the threshold for instalment arrangements set up in myIR. The new minimum repayment rates are: – Weekly $20 (previously $50). – Fortnightly $40 (previously $100) – Monthly $80 (previously $200).”

Compliance activity

“At Inland Revenue, we recognise this is a concerning time for tax agents and customers and we want to support you wherever we can through any current audits or disputes.

“We know you’re under a lot of pressure and uncertainty currently, and we want to work with you on a case by case basis. This may be by delaying the progress of an audit or dispute for a period.”

Extension of time

“Inland Revenue has decided to extend the timeframe for filing Basic Compliance Packages (BCPs). The new due date is 30 June 2020. Please forward any questions about this to

Information sharing

“In these extraordinary circumstances, Inland Revenue is now required to operate very differently.

“IR holds a lot of information that may enable other government agencies to reach those who need assistance the most and the Government has recently passed legislation allowing us to share certain information.

“We are putting in place safeguards to ensure any information we share is kept safe. We will share only enough information so other agencies can provide the relevant relief and assistance. Any information received by the other agency will not be able to be used for other initiatives outside of COVID-19.”

The post Inland Revenue waives tax penalties appeared first on Hospitality Business.

CINZ launches recovery plan to support business events industry

New Zealand’s business events industry association, CINZ is looking towards post-COVID-19 recovery by launching a new event, BE Reconnected, for December 2020.

BE Reconnected will focus on re-engaging and reconnecting vital industry relationships to help kick start business recovery. To be hosted at Vodafone Events Centre in Auckland on 1 December, it will replace this year’s multi-day MEETINGS exhibition which was due to be held this month. The CINZ 2020 Conference and Annual General Meeting will follow on 2 December.

CINZ Chief Executive, Lisa Hopkins says New Zealand’s business events industry, which was valued at around $500m per year, has suffered immense losses and must be given every opportunity to recover.

“We have been looking at different ways to reconnect our members with customers, channels and each other, as part of the industry’s overall business recovery strategy.

“BE Reconnected will be a vital step in helping to secure business leads and super-charging the sector’s recovery. We want to engage buyers in multiple face-to-face opportunities over a short time, building new relationships and rekindling old ones,” she says.

“Business events are the highest-yielding component of the visitor economy. At the start of 2020, New Zealand was on the cusp of enormous business tourism growth with the opening of new conference venues, four and five-star hotels, national infrastructure, expanded airlines routes and new attractions. Instead, for many, there has been no business or revenue,” she says.

“As a key economic driver for our country, it is our organisation’s responsibility to plan and prepare for the recovery, for the sake of our clients, employees, community, regions and the industry.

“Our plan is to show both domestic and international clients that we are stronger, more passionate and more committed than ever to reconnect our customers with the incredible destinations, experiences and people of New Zealand, when a handshake, a hongi or a hug is no longer prohibited,” she says.

BE Reconnected will focus on maximising time with customers. Emphasis will be on conversation and relationship building versus an expansive programme and exhibition floor.

The post CINZ launches recovery plan to support business events industry appeared first on Hospitality Business.

Prepared meals for accommodation guests

FED. makes nutritious freshly prepared meals and delivers them directly to Kiwi addresses across the North Island.

It is reaching out to the accommodation businesses to deliver prepared meals to those living in temporary accommodation with limited kitchen facilities.

Its meals are all made using high-quality ingredients, high welfare meat and fish and premium produce that are locally sourced. 

It’s fully prepared meals are available for both one off orders and on a subscription service for two-five nights per week, delivered on Thursdays and Sundays in Auckland and Sundays in Auckland, Wellington, Tauranga, Hamilton and Palmerston North.

During the COVID-19 Level 4 alert, FED. has been given an exemption to continue producing and delivering its prepared meals as a critical supplier to other essential services.

Prices start at $14.00 per meal.

Hotels can make a wholesale enquiry by contacting Hotel guests can order directly on

The post Prepared meals for accommodation guests appeared first on Hospitality Business.

Visitor repatriation plans underway

Tens of thousands of visitors to New Zealand will be relieved that they now have some chance of returning home before the lockdown ends, Tourism Industry Aotearoa says.

“We welcome the announcement from Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Winston Peters as international visitors are in lockdown all over New Zealand and the stringent domestic travel restrictions mean they could not get to an international airport to connect with one of the few remaining international flights,” TIA Chief Executive Chris Roberts says.

“Publicity overseas about visitors being stranded in New Zealand was threatening to harm our international reputation. TIA has been highlighting their situation to the Government and we are pleased that a solution has been found to help those who want to get home.”

Mr Roberts notes that it may be some weeks before all those who want to are able to leave New Zealand, as it will depend on how many international flights are available.

“There will be a heavy reliance on special repatriation flights. Only three airlines are currently operating outbound commercial passenger flights, all from Auckland Airport – Air New Zealand, Malaysia Airlines and Qatar Airways.

“While they are still here, I urge all Kiwis to continue showing manaakitanga to our visitors. As our Prime Minister says: Be kind.

“Just as we hope that New Zealanders stranded overseas are being treated well in their host countries, so we should treat those who have found themselves locked down here, far from family and friends.”

Further details about the repatriation plan are available at  International visitors should contact their Embassy or High Commission for further advice.

The post Visitor repatriation plans underway appeared first on Hospitality Business.

COVID-19 payment clarification issued by government

Hospitality employers confused by contradictory information regarding employee payouts from the government’s COVID-19 rescue programme, have received clarification.

The Minister of Finance, Grant Robertson has clarified that the changes to the wage subsidy scheme announced on March 27 mean that employers should be passing on the full subsidy to workers, except in the case where the person’s normal income is less than the level of the subsidy.

 “We still want employers to use their best endeavours to pay employees 80% of their normal salaries.  Where this is not possible, we want the value of the subsidy to be passed on.

“But to be absolutely clear if a person’s income is normally less than the subsidy they can be paid their normal salary.

“This is particularly an issue for part time employees some of whom normally earn less than the $350 per week.  We urge employers to use normal hours in the period before COVID-19 to assess the amount to be paid,” Grant Robertson said.

“This scheme is a high trust system in order to ensure that money reaches workers and businesses as soon as possible.  We urge employers to use the money provided by the scheme for the purpose it was intended, to support the wages of their employees.

“As stated yesterday we are chasing up examples that have been reported of misuse and we are standing up an audit capacity for the scheme.

“No employer who has applied since the announcement on March 26  needs to re-apply.  The Ministry of Social Development will be processing those applications in accordance with this clarification,” Grant Robertson said.

Clarification is still being sought, however, as to what employers can do with any excess. For example, if a part time employee is paid $300 per week for their hours worked, what can employers do with the extra $85.00 they receive from the Government? Advice would suggest this money be set aside and not unnecessarily spent, at this stage.

The post COVID-19 payment clarification issued by government appeared first on Hospitality Business.

Commercial Bay opening delayed

Bringing together the largest concentration of high quality retail, food and beverage offerings in the city of Auckland – including an expansive food hall, luxury hotel and the striking new PwC Tower – Commercial Bay promises to be the most transformational project Auckland has ever seen, however it’s official restaurant and foodhall opening day, which was scheduled for  March 28, has been postponed.

Instead the proprietors of Commercial Bay have expressed their disappointment at the COVID -19 impact.

“When the Government first placed restrictions on gatherings we felt it would be inappropriate and irresponsible to promote an opening day. The subsequent announcement of placing the country in lockdown was unquestionably the right course of action, and the health and safety of our communities continues to be an absolute priority for us.

“However, to say we are disappointed is an understatement. We have an amazing group of retailers and hospitality providers – their fit outs are done, their menus are printed, their stock has been ordered – their incredible visions and dreams are so close to being a reality.”

Work on the internationally-inspired development, including Harbour Eats, the Level Two  food hall with stunning harbour views and design, started three years ago when development owners Precinct Properties enlisted New York-based AvroKO Hospitality Group along with Auckland-based Izzard Design to bring their vision for Commercial Bay alive.  

“Commercial Bay will shake up the hospitality scene and Harbour Eats, designed by AvroKO, has reimagined the food hall experience which promises to be a magnet for foodies,” says Precinct Properties CEO Scott Pritchard.

Headlining AvroKO’s debut at Commercial Bay’s Level Six hospitality space are international favourites Ghost Donkey and Poni Rood, both tipped to open at the end of March; and the group’s flagship restaurant Saxon + Parole along with cocktail bar Liquorette will be ready for the crowds in May.

Stellar Chef Line Up

Matt Lambert, the Kiwi-born, New York-based chef of Musket Roof fame joins Commercial Bay’s stellar line-up with The Lodge Bar. An impressive turnout of  leading local chefs, local favourites and emerging talent are definitely among the mix as well.

For several years now, Izzard Design has been taking hospitality venues in New Zealand to a whole new level by changing the way people experience dining: Recent acclaimed projects include the Newmarket Westfield Rooftop, The Goodside and Auckland Fish Market.  The rooftop bar at the Four Points Sheraton Auckland, The Churchill, is another head turner from Izzard Design – and secured a Finalist nod at the Australasian Eat Drink Design Awards 2019.   

“Hospitality operators used to simply open a restaurant and do their thing,” Izzard says. “But I don’t think that’s enough anymore. Customers are more discerning these days and there’s a lot of competition. With your brand or story you can’t just tick one box, you need to tick them all.” 

Multiple venue developments that bring operators together under the one roof are   definitely ticking all the boxes. At Harbour Eats, featuring 29 individual operators, visitors will experience a look and feel that celebrates the essence of New Zealand. Iconic landscapes and origin and legacy stories have inspired the unique features, design elements and natural earthy materials intrinsic to the project.

“Experiences for diners are becoming more important in the hospitality space,” says Izzard. “Like the retail sector, hospitality is having to adapt and attract customers who want more when they go out. We don’t go out because we’re hungry, we go out because we want to be entertained and at Harbour Eats, people will experience all the activity, drama and honesty of their food being cooked right in front of them.

Consistent Kitchen Design Fit Out

“Precincts are more affordable options for operators. Customers can pick up their own food, which keeps staff costs down and customers enjoy more affordable choice. Precinct Properties has been really clever; as well as inviting known industry talent to Harbour Eats, they’ve brought through gifted food truck chefs and market stall holders with artisan, bespoke offerings and given them access to an established venue with a dining potential of 30,000 people. Previously they wouldn’t have had that opportunity and they don’t have to worry about staff and fit outs.”  

For more information regarding Commercial Bay, click HERE.

The post Commercial Bay opening delayed appeared first on Hospitality Business.

NZ Chocolate Awards winners announced

A new Mahurangi chocolate maker has swept away the competition taking the top gong, a Category Winner title and multiple medals at this year’s New Zealand Chocolate Awards.

Foundry Chocolate was named NZ Chocolate Awards’ 2020 Supreme Winner for its Foundry Chocolate Anamalai Estate, India 70%. Foundry is also Category Winner with the same bar in the Bean-to-Bar – Chocolate Bar Plain Category. Their Supreme Award and the Category Winner titles were accompanied by seven Gold Medals and five Silver Medals.  

 Foundry Chocolate was established by chocolate maker David Herrick and his wife Janelle in September 2018. The pair focus on bean-to-bar chocolate making, using only two ingredients, single-origin cacao beans and organic sugar. Foundry specialises in dark chocolate, sourcing beans from the world’s most expressive cacao growing regions; Peru, Tanzania, Colombia, Papua New Guinea, Bolivia, Vanuatu, Mexico, India and Ecuador and crafting them to produce chocolate with distinctive flavours.

 Other Awards Category Winners are a range of favourite New Zealand chocolate makers and chocolatiers; Hogarth Chocolate, Wellington Chocolate Factory, Miann Chocolate Factory, Shirl & Moss, Schoc Chocolates, Devonport Chocolates, Baron Hasselhoff’s and She Universe. Gold, Silver and Bronze Medals winners were announced also showing New Zealand’s bourgeoning chocolate industry.

 Organisers of the NZ Chocolate Awards were pleased to have judged 120 NZ-made chocolates on the first Saturday of March, in a pre-Covid-19 environment. Judging was by an esteemed panel of 10 food professionals lead by international chocolate judge Elle Coco. Coco has judged at the British Academy of Chocolate and the International Chocolate Awards, her move to Wellington enabled her to take on the role of head judge when the NZ Chocolate Awards were last held in 2018.

 She said “It was wonderful to judge again and New Zealand should feel proud of the quality produced by their chocolate industry. The Awards this year gave us some fantastic entries from new and existing producers. Just like the last time we had some really unusual, true kiwiana flavours and inclusions which are innovative and exciting and show the local chocolate industry is evolving.”

 “Tough times are ahead for everyone and the chocolate industry is no exception but they can get through with consumer support. Many chocolate makers have online ordering so now is a great time to get to know local chocolate makers albeit virtually. Be safe, be well, be happy and don’t forget to treat yourself to quality chocolate.”

NZ Chocolate Awards Co-Director, Kathie Bartley says she’s pleased to announce the winners before Easter. Traditionally Easter is the busiest time of year for sales for chocolate. So this year will be challenging. However, many of NZ Chocolate Awards winners have product for sale in supermarkets or via online sales. 

“Easter 2020 will be different as we experience it in our ‘bubbles’. However, we wanted to ensure kiwis were aware of all our local award-winning chocolate makers, so that where possible people can enjoy their chocolate in their homes this Easter.

 Like so many New Zealand businesses, our small chocolate producers are doing it tough at the moment. We’re pleased we can provide some small amount of relief by celebrating their amazing dedication to making delicious chocolate products for kiwis to enjoy, ” she said.

 The NZ Chocolate Awards 2020 judging panel was; Luke Owen Smith (owner of The Chocolate Bar in Wellington and regular judge), Arno Sturny (senior lecturer at AUT School of Hospitality & Tourism teaching the diploma in patisserie who has a Master of Gastronomy specialising in the history of New Zealand chocolate), Juan Balsani (Head Chef at Auckland’s Baduzzi), Ganesh Khedekar (head Pastry Chef at pastry chef at LSG Sky Chef), Jasbir Kaur (tutor at Ignite Colleges and accomplished international food judge),Tamara Rubanowski (Head of Content at FMCG Business and experienced industry awards judge), Helen Jackson (food writer and self-confessed chocoholic), Fiona Smith (food writer and experienced food judge who was Head Judge of the Cuisine Artisan Awards for a decade), and Ginny Grant (food writer and regular restaurant and food judge).

 The Category Winners are listed below. For a full list of NZ Chocolate Awards 2020 Medal Winners visit


Foundry Chocolate Anamalai Estate, India 70%


Bean-to-Bar – Chocolate Bar Plain Category Winner

Foundry Chocolate Anamalai Estate, India 70%

Bean-to Bar – Chocolate Bar with Flavours and/or Inclusions: Joint Category Winners

Hogarth Chocolate Maple & Walnut

Wellington Chocolate Factory Raspberry Milk Chocolate Bar

Flavoured Chocolate Bar Category Winner

Schoc Chocolates Fennel

Best Filled Chocolate Category Winner

Devonport Chocolates Feijoa Honey Bonbon

Bark or Brittle/Dipped Fruit and Nut Category Winner

Baron Hasselhoff’s Pirate Mary-Rosemary Infused Salted Caramel

Open Class Easter Category Winner

Miann Chocolate Factory Half Dozen Eggs

Open Class Drinking Chocolate Category Winner

She Universe Hot Chocolate Orblets Mayan Chilli

The post NZ Chocolate Awards winners announced appeared first on Hospitality Business.

WORLDCHEFS recognises Kiwi online culinary school

International Culinary Studio, New Zealand’s leading online culinary school, is proud to receive the Recognition of Quality Culinary Education certification by the prestigious World Association of Chefs’ Societies (WORLDCHEFS), for its online training programmes.

The award is an international endorsement renowned in the culinary world. International Culinary Studio has joined over 100 recognised establishments around the world which consistently deliver quality culinary education. 

To receive the recognition, International Culinary Studio’s academic programmes were reviewed by a panel of WORLDCHEFS members who evaluated matters relating to global quality standards, evaluation of leadership, instructors, facilities, lesson delivery, industry and educational support and food safety.

Cheryl Nesbitt, founder of International Culinary Studio said: We are extremely proud and honoured to have met the high standards required to be a part of this distinguished community. This recognition reflects the hard work of the entire International Culinary Studio team, from our chef instructors and assessors, to everyone keeping things running in the support office. 

It is also a wonderful endorsement of our world-class online training programmes, and the advanced platform that we created to deliver them. It is another step forward as we continue to develop our school as the leader in online culinary education.”

WORLDCHEFS is a global network of chefs associations first founded in October 1928 at the Sorbonne in Paris. Today, this global body has over 90 official member chefs associations that represent 10 million professionals worldwide. WORLDCHEFS launched the Recognition of Quality Culinary Education programme in 2010 to establish international standards in culinary education.

A proudly New Zealand based culinary school, International Culinary Studio is believed to be the first blended learning culinary school to offer professional qualifications online to New Zealand students. From their kitchens at home, school or at work.

International Culinary Studio was recently approved for TEC funding, meaning students can now apply for the Government’s Fees Free scheme or apply for a student loan via StudyLink.

The post WORLDCHEFS recognises Kiwi online culinary school appeared first on Hospitality Business.

Brewing hand sanitiser – Kiwi ingenuity to the rescue amid Covid-19

What started out with three Hamilton hospitality blokes deciding to do a ‘good’ turn has snowballed into a lifesaving brew.

In the midst of the impending Covid-19 crisis Good George Brewing founders Brian Watson, Darrel Hadley and Jason Macklow, searching for hand sanitiser for their 300 or so staff, noticed that a whisky brewer in Scotland was using its still to produce it.

“I checked the World Health Organisation website for an approved recipe and thought, we can do this,” says Brian. “We thought this is a good idea – a way of helping people out at this time and keeping our staff, family and friends safe, so we decided to fire up the still.”

Within 24 hours of their first Facebook post the idea had taken off and a few days later they had labels printed ready to go.

Good George had been on track to produce 1.5 million litres of beer and cider this year. Quite unselfishly, the company instead turned all of its part-brewed whisky, gin and barrel-aged beer – hundreds of litres, into hand sanitiser.

“We figured that right now the world needs hand sanitiser more than whisky and gin,” says Brian.

The company gave away the first 1100 bottles to its staff, families and friends with the rest reserved for those with compromised health, emergency workers and those on the frontline.

Then it “got crazy”, says Brian. “We had the NZ Defence Force and Prison Service contact us wanting heaps, so I said, ‘we better keep going boys’!”

Renowned for their beer and cider and a dozen bars restaurants and partner bars, Brian confesses that at first they knew nothing about making hand sanitiser.

Always on the look-out for ways to serve the community, especially through Good George’s ‘Be Good, Do Good Charity, they figured if this was what they had to do to keep people safe then they’d do it.

The switch to hand sanitiser and the Government’s wage subsidy scheme had enabled them to keep on all 300 or so of their staff, with 20 or 30 brewing and making sanitiser. “We’re trying to pay them without reducing their wages and we still have some staff on full salary,” says Brian.

Up until early in the lockdown every bottle of hand sanitiser they made was given away. “We’re still struggling to survive. We have to pay our staff so we’re now offering deals of hand sanitiser and beer,” he says.

With 80 percent of Good George’s business ceasing to exist due to the crisis, their story is a wonderful example of Kiwi ingenuity.

“We didn’t know a thing about hand sanitiser, but we learned fast and used what we had to create a quality product,” says Brian. The WHO recipe is simple to make. “We have a still on site so we can make small batches of high octane ethanol which is a key ingredient for the product. Anyone with a still should be able to make sanitiser,” he says.

The post Brewing hand sanitiser – Kiwi ingenuity to the rescue amid Covid-19 appeared first on Hospitality Business.

Quiet Queenstown and South Island operators rally with new initiatives

In the South they’re used to bracing themselves against a good snow storm and although experienced and resourceful operators initially scrambled for innovative ways to ride out the waves, the Government’s enforced closure and lockdown has hit hard.

However, in true hospitality style, many operators have rallied together and been trying to use their skills to help others in need.

With 45 years’ experience in the New Zealand hotel industry, Queenstown Lakes District councillor Penny Clark has survived a few crises in her time. The former long-time hotel manager, who’s now managing Airbnbs, says the Covid-19 crisis is very different to the likes of the global financial crisis because this time it’s to do with health.

“In my 50 years in hotels I’ve seen some ups and downs. Operators just have to stay in it,” she says.

It’s a whole new ballgame now with Airbnb and so many local homeowners and holiday home owners using that income to help them pay a mortgage.

“We’re starting to see some green shoots from China starting where they’re starting to come out of Covid 19,” says Penny.

Operators around the country have been good at refunding cancellations and Air New Zealand has been great with its policy for cancelled trips, she says.

New Zealand will get through this, but it’s critical that everybody obeys the rules for the lockdown period. “We want this over as quickly as possible and the only way that will happen is if we all do what we’ve been told to do,” she said, the evening of the lockdown. “We may be on war footing but fortunately there are no planes over us dropping air bombs,” she says. “The planes will be back.”

All going well hopefully the lockdown can come off in late April, she says. “We really need to encourage each other to persevere with this self-isolation. It’s absolutely critical that we carry out the instructions. It’ll be worth it and will mean this ends sooner, rather than carrying on for another three or four months in lockdown,” she says.

Penny’s Airbnb bookings are down 100 percent for April. “Communicate with your guests, she says. “Have empathy and understanding with people. They may like to come back next year, or rebook for six months. Keep them on your books and try to encourage them to come another time.”

Many people are understood to have cancelled flights, cruises and holidays credited for some other time in the next 18 months so Penny says she’s hopeful that things can recover. Once this is over things should level off and the country will hopefully settle back into some more reasonableness.”

On a practical note, Penny says staff shouldn’t be left idle to get bored and play computer games in the office. “If you’re a smart hotelier or motelier you might work this system to do something good for the community,” she says. “Send them out into the community to cut wilding pines, or pick up rubbish. Doing good comes back to you.”

In Arrowtown, near Queenstown, People Like Us owners and co-presidents of the Southern Lakes branch of the Restaurant Association of NZ, P.J. Johnson and Sam Gruar, were among the first off the blocks prior to the lockdown. The Level 4 Alert announcement was a huge upheaval with 35 staff employed across their two restaurants, La Rumbla and Slow Cuts, and their newly-opened breakfast eatery café, Good Day.

About half of their staff are sponsored, loyal overseas workers and all part of a tightly-knit team, she says. “I think if we can get through this we will be better business people than ever,” says P.J.

Not ones to lie down and take it on the chin, P.J. and Sam immediately thought outside the square prior to the full lockdown announcement once dinner cancellations starting coming in.

They had pulled together plans for ‘Isolation Party’ in-home dinner and dance packages for 10 with matching wines delivered complete with a waiter to serve, and popular DJ’s Sweet Mix Kids. An airing on Facebook and some local radio promotion had already sparked immense interest in the first few days. They were also preparing to send their La Rumbla chef into homes to cook Spanish food with his special paella pan and people would’ve been able to order anything off the menu. Strict Food Control Plan requirements were to be implemented. “We’ve always been about being proactive rather than reactive,” says P.J. “When disaster strikes we need to stick together and it’s important that staff feel supported,” she says.

For Ben Norfolk, The Bunker co-owner in Queenstown and executive chef of that venue, and Attiqa, it’s all been pretty daunting but he’s playing it day by day. The Government’s rescue package should go some way to assisting, but for Ben the future of his valuable staff, many of them from overseas, is of more concern, especially as he’s sponsored a number of them. “We’re like a family here and I have overseas staff who I’ve sponsored and they’re relying on me. The most important part about retaining my family of staff is that we can all look after each other through all of this and be there to care for each other afterwards,” says Ben.

On the eve of lockdown Ben, was greatly encouraged by news that his faithful team of overseas staff should hopefully have their visas extended until September. With 18 of The Bunker’s 21 staff and almost all of Attiqa’s 19 too this was a huge relief. “Everybody’s looking after each other, talking to each other and supporting each other. We’re all keeping connected,” he says. In the meantime, Ben, like many operators, was trying to do some good for those in need. After a few weeks in lockdown people could be really finding it tough financially. He’d been talking to the local police about whether he and a couple of key staff could prepare food and safely deliver that to people who needed help. Ben was hoping for support from suppliers and supermarkets to come up with a plan that met the safety requirements stipulated by the police of very minimal handling and contact.

Helping self isolators

Central Otago branch accommodation sector chair for Hospitality NZ Carlyn Topp says local self-contained apartments have been on hand and well positioned to assist anybody needing to self-isolate, especially overseas visitors stranded and locals returning from overseas. 

 At her own Highview Apartments Carlyn has staff dropping fresh linen outside the door for self-isolators to collect. One fully-kitted staff member in protective equipment has been appointed to collect rubbish at a certain time each day from outside the door. That is then placed in another plastic bag and sealed. Everything taken from the room then is put into its own isolation area before processing further to prevent any spread, says Carlyn.

Communication now is key, we need to keep checking in on our teams, with the four week minimum self-isolation time,” she says. That gives everyone a lot of time for thinking.  For some they will be worrying about whether they will come out of this with a job.  It is very uncertain times for all of us and our normal will certainly be altered,” she says. As a business owner we can use the time to look at how we can adapt our businesses for challenges such as this and look to how we can best recover.  

Just because the physical business has had to temporarily close the door doesn’t mean the work stops, she says.  “Policies and procedures can be written, business planning and marketing strategies written and put in place. Online meetings can still happen within your teams and social media is a great way to stay connected,” says Carlyn. “Set goals with your team, what would they all like to achieve over the next four weeks, whether it is a book they have been wanting to read, a sport they have wanted to perfect, learn a language or craft.  Then celebrate our achievements after this time, who knows how these new learned achievements may shape the future,” she says. “Stay safe and keep your social distance. Kia Kaha.”

Restaurant Association of NZ chief executive Marissa Bidois says many members are focusing on upskilling their teams and continuing with training for themselves during the lockdown period. Prior to that many members were assisting their local communities by handing out meal kits and providing customers with food for the lockdown. “It’s been very challenging for our industry,” says Marissa. “We’re a resilient bunch and we will survive it.”

Darren Lovell, of Queenstown’s Fishbone Restaurant and Bar and more recently Love Chicken was quick to get his message out to ensure customers were reassured about hygiene standards, prior to the lockdown. He had quickly geared up to offer online orders through existing restaurant food delivery business Food on Q for Love Chicken, but that quickly ground to a halt as the Government announced all restaurants and cafes had to close late last month. “This is the worst situation I’ve seen in my 15 years in the business,” he says. “Everybody’s been really encouraging,” he says. And a word from Darren when the lockdown lifts: “Support the locals. Go bungy jumping,” he urges.

Rents have been a big issue. A veteran of 20 years as a Queenstown restaurant operator, Grant Hattaway said in a statement at the start of the lockdown that Queenstown tenants were in the process of communicating with their respective landlords, due to their inability to access or trade in their businesses. Tenants and landlords were hopeful that once the Government moved to Level 4 alert that lease provisions could allow building owners to claim rents from their insurance, which would be a huge help to tenants, he said at the time. “Most landlords have loss of rent insurance,” he said. “It used to be mainly one year, but now most have two years following the Christchurch Earthquake.” He was urging fair and reasonable communication between all parties. “If and when the crisis is finally over, the ability of the landlord to lease a commercial premises to a successful and competent operator will be critical moving forward,” said Grant.

The Government directive to close all non-essential businesses hasn’t been seen as a challenge, but what is necessary to “protect our people”, says Canterbury Restaurant Association branch president, Lisa Levy, of Inati. “These are our families, loved ones, friends, neighbours and guests that support us,” she says. “We will all do everything we can to still be here when this is over.”

Closing their businesses had been very hard for operators. “We have all worked so hard to make our hospitality establishments a success,” she says. The wage subsidy should help many of us keep our people. We need them when this is all over.” Clear communication with teams and being transparent in a time like this is important so that they all know what is happening and how it impacts on their lives,” says Lisa.

“Until we move from Alert Level 4 we are all on lockdown. During this time we will stay in touch with our people and talk through what the possibilities are for reopening. It will depend on each business, but I’m sure there will be some creative initiatives coming from Canterbury in the near future.” “Christchurch businesses are very resilient and they’ve been through a lot with the earthquakes. That will show through,” she says.

In Dunedin Restaurant Association branch president, Olive Tabor, of Patti’s & Cream, made the most of the 24 hours before lockdown last month delivering masses of ice cream from her popular food truck business. Instead of her usual weekly delivery, Olive had been full on delivering for two full days using three cars. Her caramel, mint chocolate and cookies and cream ice cream offered great comfort food for those heading into self-isolation before she had to shut up her online service. Operators have pulled together and been working together to try and get through the crisis, says Olive.

In Nelson, Tasman District branch president Kevin Hopgood said on lockdown night that despite the disbelief and shock for operators they were talking to the authorities to try and rally together to help out with any community assistance.

The post Quiet Queenstown and South Island operators rally with new initiatives appeared first on Hospitality Business.


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