Eateries glad to be of full table service again

Local cafes were welcoming back diners this week, confident they could offer a “professional” service after Raglan along with most of the country moved down an alert level from midnight Tuesday.

However, as the co-owner of one downtown eatery noted, it wasn’t quite back to business as usual  under the new ‘Delta Level 2’ and sit-down customers would notice “a few changes” from before the latest Covid-19 outbreak struck.

Lisa James, of Orca Eatery & Bar, said that besides adhering again to the three S’s  – ensuring people were seated, separated and had a single server – front of house staff would now wear masks at all times when serving “and customers should as well unless eating or drinking”.

All customers would be required to scan the Covid Tracer app or sign in, she added, and only up to 50 could dine or relax over a coffee at any one time. 

Lisa said Orca – no doubt like other cafes about town – was inundated with direct bookings immediately following Tuesday afternoon’s announcement of an alert level shift, and was asking people now to reserve tables online. 

“It’s so great to have so much community support,” she enthused.

The Shack’s Justin Thomson could also hardly wait to re-open the doors on Wednesday morning and remained undaunted by “a few new rules” such as the mandatory masks and reduced seating at 1.5m apart.

He predicted the “most challenging” rule for customers would be the need to  scan  or sign in.

“We’ll be running a small menu to begin with before things build up for the weekend,” Justin explained. Getting supplies through after the lockdown hiatus seemed to be proving a slight hitch initially.

When the Chronicle phoned on Monday evening The Wharf Kitchen & Bar was also gearing up to return to something approaching normal trading hours – “morning, noon and night” – as were ULO’s and Rock-it Kitchens, La La Land and Wyld which have been busy with contactless takeaways at alert level 3. 

Local support from a “good” community has kept them going, say eatery owners, who feel confident they can make it through the Delta Covid outbreak unscathed. Despite turnover having been down during level 3, both La La Land’s Monika Suchecka and Wyld’s Paul Gittings were upbeat at the backing shown by the community.

“People know how to support us,” said Monika. “They pay more, buy more, it’s heartwarming.”

She cited the case of one customer who treated the staff of Raglan Medical $80 worth of goodies from her range to thank them for their hard work.

Rock-it’s Cherie Nathan was also grateful for “awesome support” from the community at level 3, during which they offered a smaller kitchen menu from the old barn’s front door. 

Speaking on behalf of  the two families which took over the business not much more than three months ago, she made clear they were unfazed by level 2’s reduced seating rules.

With a generous deck, a large grassy area for well-spaced seating and a new spring menu ready to go “we’re pretty confident we can survive”, Cherie said.

The Chronicle couldn’t immediately contact some of the other cafes around town for comment.