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Restaurant feeling squeeze from pandemic

Flagstaff Team

The economic crisis sparked by the Covid-19 virus has swept the world. The Flagstaff spoke to Manuka Restaurant, a local businesses to see how they are coping.

Worried… Manuka cafe owners Peter and Susan Reeves have faced
plummeting patronage and have fears for the future of their business

Seven months after they purchased the thriving Manuka cafe, a Devonport couple fear they could lose everything due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

Peter and Susan Reeves returned from travelling the world with their two children and decided to live in Bayswater. After much consideration, they purchased the central Devonport cafe seven months ago. 

“We have put everything on the line,” Peter Reeves says. “A business like this costs a lot.” 

They used their personal assets, including their home and savings, as security, and have worked 80-plus hours a week since to build up the business. 

Customers have included locals, visitors from other parts of Auckland and travellers from further afield. 

Now, especially since stricter travel restrictions were imposed, patronage has plummeted. 

Last week, passengers from six cruise ships were booked in for meals, and all of the vessels cancelled their Auckland visits. 

The Reeves’ biggest worry is about the future, which could include reducing hours, laying off staff and even closing the cafe and restaurant’s doors. 

The 15 staff, who live locally, are on low wages and rely on their income to get war- rants on their cars and food on the table. 

Peter is extremely worried about their welfare, and about the flow-on effect to the entire community. 

He is willing to subsidise the wage bill with his own money, but the business, which leases the entire corner block, is costly to run.
The Reeves say they already train staff 

to high hygiene standards, but are reinforcing that training and are also keeping the restaurant spotlessly clean. 

If necessary, they will remove some tables to support social distancing. Manuka is offering home deliveries. 

This article originally appeared in the 27 March 2020 edition of the Devonport Flagstaff.