We (myself and our team) have worked hard with our Employer to continue regular trading in our suburban cafe as best we could, within the abrupt and ever changing guidelines from the government and Health regulations.
To help our community and our suppliers combat the recent drop in business, We started offering delivery service on our entire menue and added an option for an ‘essentials’ box, including things like milk, eggs, pasta and veggies. Which we were to deliver ourselves roughly within a 3km radius. Hopefully it picks up, as we don’t have enough orders to keep an employee on this task.
Our business had been moving forward on an environmental level to reduce waste, provide sustainable options such as keep cups and limiting take away packaging where possible. Unfortunately, we have had to increase our use of these items which are difficult to recycle. However, I have installed by the footpath, a pipe/tube that paper cups and lids can be collected. Hopefully this will reduce the waste.
Many of our loyal customers were supportive, coming in whenever they could, bringing cheer and optimism. Others, not so much. We had a large drop off of our older patrons (which make up a major part of our weekday trade) as they were fearful of crowded places and prefered to stay away. Thankfully we have an outdoor area that can accommodate most of our customers and a large seating area where ‘social distancing’ practices can be managed effectively.
Some customers were not at all understanding, and became rude or irritated as service was only slightly slowed due to the exra care being taken, such as extended time hand washing, sanitizing chairs and condiments between sittings, longer bathroom queues etc. It became extremely frustrating to explain to people that they must be patient while we do our part in protecting our community.
Others in a similar category muttered amongst themselves about their overseas trip, how they were not satisfied with hygene practises elsewhere, schools continuing to operate, other people not following social distancing or hand washing. Adamant that they were potentially at risk however more or less in an age group where they are personally protected. This in itself was disheartening. More so was the fact that customers such as this, were leaving piles of their dirty napkins, face wipes and other items on the floor, their own table and thrown onto nearby recently cleaned/sanitised tables. disregarding our staff health and safety and other patrons. It became tiring for myself and other staff who were just trying to do the right thing and provide their best level of care.
In the end, once the lockdown was implemented, we had no choice but to close our doors, remove the chairs and open up a window for take-away only service. The remaining operating area of the business is very small – only about 4sq metres.. (go figure). The owners are stepping up, making coffee as they usually would.. Two alternating chefs and our barrista were the only ones able to mantain employment, as there is no requirement for floor staff, dishwashing or reservation management, etc. Revenue is obviously down significantly, the landlord will not allow any reduction on rent, but all staff working will still be paid as usual. Running at a loss just to support our community is more important to us than money in these times.
If our community continues to support us, We will remain open, and we have a workplace waiting for us on the other side of this.