Owned and operated by the McMahon family, The Strawberry Farm has grown since its honesty box days in 2003 to include Punnet Eatery and the Country Providore. As the farm became more of a destination, the McMahon’s realised the community needed a gathering spot for people to relax. Now a thriving eatery, Punnet specialises in rustic fine dining.
Like most businesses, level 4 meant Punnet was unable to operate and level 3 significantly reduced operations.
“This has obviously had a large financial impact on us, but we are not alone in this,” said Haley Bicknell, owner/operator of Punnet.
“Everyone is doing it tough, so it’s just about finding ways to navigate it this time and keep afloat. We are grateful that we used last year’s lockdown to implement several initiatives, which meant we hit the ground running when we shifted to level 3 this time.”
During level 3 in 2020, Punnet launched Punnet at Home, a range of chef-prepared take-home meals available for contactless delivery and pick-up. They also launched the Punnet app, which allows for online ordering and contactless collection of food and coffee.
“The Punnet at Home range was already in the pipeline, but the Covid situation gave us some extra motivation,” said Bicknell.
“The range is chef-prepared in our kitchen and full of flavoursome, quality ingredients. It includes wholesome curries, family favourites such as meatballs and potato gratin, as well as decadent desserts.
“It has become an important part of our business and is an area we will continue to grow.”
Due to the lockdown, Punnet has reduced delivery frequency, requiring the team to adjust how they work. Packaging shortages were also a problem due to the increased demand with more businesses providing takeaway.
At level 2, Punnet operates at a reduced capacity with increased spacing between tables, and all staff wear masks during service.
“Working with food, our cleaning and hygiene procedures have always been strict, so these practices have been maintained and increased slightly. For example, anything that a customer touches during service is switched out or cleaned before the next, such as salt and pepper shakers.”
During level 3, when no customer service was required, Bicknell tried to maintain similar hours for staff and keep them busy.
“We had team members ‘spring cleaning’ and tackling odd jobs around the place. They enjoyed the change of pace!”
“As always, we have been humbled and heartened by the community response. As expected, our level 3 customers were primarily our locals, and it was lovely to see them popping down for a coffee and bite to eat as part of their lockdown routine.”