What every COVID-struck business needs right now

 

DESPERATE small businesses in "survival mode" across Queensland are pleading with the State Government to prioritise a road map to recovery to grant suffering industries a clear path forward from the crushing COVID-19 restrictions.

Hospitality and beauty business owners are struggling to stay afloat as the global pandemic forces them to adapt with stripped back services as they bleed money, while others have closed down altogether.

Jade Machin, who owns Bare Bones Society (BBS) cafe in Brisbane's Centenary suburbs with her husband Kym said a clear direction and timeline from the State Government would help with staffing, supply and financial challenges as they prepare to recoup.

Despite Bare Bones Society at Jindalee adapting well to challenges of COVID-19, they’re calling on the QLD Government for a clear outline of what comes next. Picture: Patria Jannides
Despite Bare Bones Society at Jindalee adapting well to challenges of COVID-19, they’re calling on the QLD Government for a clear outline of what comes next. Picture: Patria Jannides

 

"A road map would be awesome because we just don't know what to expect," Mrs Machin said.

"It would be good to have more than a day's notice like we had when we shut down (due to COVID-19 restrictions). At the moment we just don't know (if) we should be ordering. We've been in limbo for six weeks with suppliers and not knowing if we need to order more produce."

 

BBS has been able to re-hire two of their causal staff in the past few weeks as the business adapts by introducing take home food options and catered Mother's Day picnic foods.

But they still only have seven of their usual 25 staff on board.

Anthony Kekkou, owner of Andonis Cafés at Yeronga and Yerongpilly had to let go of three quarters of his 20 staff, having dropped over 85 per cent in sales.

Jackey Kekkou at Andonis Cafe and Bar, Yeerongpilly, where profits are down 85 per cent. Picture: Richard Walker
Jackey Kekkou at Andonis Cafe and Bar, Yeerongpilly, where profits are down 85 per cent. Picture: Richard Walker

 

"I poured my heart and soul into these shops and it's really all I've got," Mr Kekkou said.

According to Mr Kekkou, Mother's Day typically brings in around 1000 customers each year. This year, he's offering take home options with free wine just to encourage sales and keep his business afloat.

 "I understand why there are restrictions, the hardest part is not knowing when they'll be lifted," he said.

It comes after chamber of commerce leaders from across Queensland last week issued an open letter to Annastacia Palaszczuk pleading with the Premier to turn her attention towards the economy and adopt the coronavirus recovery blueprint involving a tax freeze, apprentice wage subsidies and fast-tracking $4 billion worth of infrastructure before more businesses go broke.

Director of Drunken Monkey Group, Adam Barton, who part-owns Brisbane's Brooklyn Standard, Suzie Wongs Good Time Bar and Fat Angel Sport Bar and Grill is feeling the full effect of the restrictions with all three venues closed since March 26.

Some of the venues' combined 25 staff have put away the cocktail shakers and picked up the paint brushes, as Mr Barton is able to offer only a handful of employees work as painters and cleaners at the bars.

Co-founder of The Brow Bar, Chernae Silk is all smiles here, but says the business loses $10,000 every week during closure. Picture: Richard Walker
Co-founder of The Brow Bar, Chernae Silk is all smiles here, but says the business loses $10,000 every week during closure. Picture: Richard Walker

 

He said he understood developing a business road map was a "mammoth task" but a basic plan with room for adjustment for varying venues would be "ideal".

" … Each (venue) is very different in the way they operate and what plans need to be put in place to make them safe for patrons to once again feel safe are all very different," he said.

He hoped the State Government would consider a kickstart grant of around $15,000 to $30,000 for venues.

Meanwhile, the beauty industry needs longer to prepare, according to The Brow Bar's director Chernae Silk.

"You've got to make sure the artists are ready to come back to work, as well as a lead time for bookings," Ms Silk   said.

"60,000 texts have got to go out and we've got to be answering phones for a least a week before, just to be able to get the bums on seats"

The Department of Employment, Small Business and Training did not respond to requests for comment.

Originally published as What every COVID-struck business needs right now



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