Hospo Owners Face Losing Staff

Wellington hospitality owners are in a dire situation and considering laying off staff due to lack of customers and alert level 2 restrictions.

Mary Meachen, the owner of Smith the Grocer in the Old Bank Arcade on Lambton Quay, lost $4000 worth of produce when the country went into level 4 lockdown. Now at alert level 2, Meachen said she is earning only 30 percent of her average turnover, which isn't enough to pay her staff wages.

She said they survived the first lockdown, but this is too hard, and they will fail very quickly at this rate.

At alert level 2, indoor hospitality venues have a limit of 50 customers at a time.

Meachen's cafe can fit 120 customers and relies heavily on the patronage of government works, many of whom haven't returned to the office yet. She said it is hideous that her power bills and rates are the same, and she pays her staff the same.

Wellington catering company Seasoned and Dressed lost about 97 percent of its bookings after going to level 4, said its owner Laurence Benson.

For the upcoming week, Benson has four enquiries, catering for about five people each. The company usually caters for 18-25 functions per day for 20-55 people.

Mojo Coffee chief executive Pierre van Heerden said the first day at level 2 was disastrous, with all 24 of his cafes earning 10-25 percent of what they usually would. On the second day, customer traffic picked up slightly, and his cafes traded at 35 percent of pre-lockdown.

Jose Ubiaga, the owner of Dakota Bar, The Establishment, and The Residence, said if the wage subsidy dries up during level 2, he will have to let staff go.

Ubiaga said he'd be lucky to make 30 percent of his usual turnover this week. This won't cover wages, let alone the rent, electricity, insurance, or anything else.