Hamilton restaurant owners Mat Pedley and Maurice Montero celebrated winning the first title at the Waikato Hospitality Awards on Monday night.
As of Tuesday evening, the doors of their Mr Pickles Bar and Eatery were closed thanks to the Covid-19 alert level 4 lock.
âThis morning I went through all of my reservations for the next three days and reached out to people telling them obviously you won’t be able to come to dinner,â Pedley said.
“We also had a new bar that we were going to be opening with friends over the weekend and we had to hang it as well.”
Mr. Pickles Bar and Eatery took home the supreme award at the hospitality awards ceremony, but we didn’t have time to celebrate.
The goal had changed to help the staff and the business manage for the next week or so.
Pedley was out when Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced the Level 4 lockdown.
âMaurice called a meeting with Mr. Pickles’ team, they took out all the food, vacuum packed it and distributed it to the team.
“We know the lockdown isn’t just about Auckland or Coromandel, it’s about the greatest good, for us it’s also about taking care of our team.”
It was a similar situation for Riccardo Carminati, who runs Alpino Cambridge, an Italian restaurant that also won the Outstanding Restaurant award on Monday night.
The food prepared for the next day was distributed to the 28 restaurant employees.
âWe had to do a thorough cleaning of the restaurant to make sure it would be ready when we got back.
âWe know how to do a lockdown, we did it last year and we can do it again.
“It will be very difficult, however, not only for those who work in the hospitality industry, but for all those who work in customer service.”
Carminati said he would use the free time to plan a new menu for the spring season.
The hospitality awards were hosted by the Restaurant Association of New Zealand and its chief executive, Marisa Bidois, said other awards events may be postponed.
Hawke’s Bay was the next cab out of line and it was scheduled to take place on Monday.
The association represents around 2,500 businesses and Bidois said there were three times as many calls to its helpline of people seeking advice on Wednesday.
âA lot of those conversations were about how to fulfill their obligations with the staff, there were questions about the redistribution of food and what to do next. “
Bidois said the association’s website has clear guidelines for each of the alert levels.
“At level 4, very few of our businesses can open, but I think right now it’s important to look at level 3 and what those next steps might be.”
She acknowledged that the government had acted quickly to provide financial assistance.
âBut we would like to see more support for businesses, especially in [rents and leases] areas.
âA lot of our businesses still have loans from previous closings. “
Bidois said there was a sense of support for the latest lockdown “at this early stage.”
âBut that doesn’t alleviate the fact that these blockages put a lot of pressure on businesses.
“People understand that they have to be done, but there is a financial burden that businesses will have to bear as a result.”
Food Waikato Inc’s project and events manager Julia Clarke said she felt for the catering companies who allegedly prepared the food on Tuesday night.
“I just can’t get over all of these chillers, all of this inventory being put together, all of the hours spent and the people involved, this is a huge loss and a huge impact on the hospitality industry.”
Clarke said she understands Hamilton’s Kaivolution is busy collecting food for redistribution on Wednesday.
Other food stores had also offered free kai to the public on Tuesday night, including The Noodle Shop in Te Awamutu.
Food Waikato Inc was available to speak to business owners and staff to provide support as well.
“The hospitality industry here is a tight-knit community and we are here to talk to people to help them deal with crises during this time.”
Links to the website for tips:
New Zealand Restaurant Association: https://www.restaurantnz.co.nz/
Hospitality New Zealand: https://www.hospitality.org.nz/s/
Waikato Food Inc: https://waikatofoodinc.com/