Sleeves Up for Cafes to Stay Afloat


Tuesday, 24 March 2020

Re-inventing menus, pushing retail and encouraging physical distancing

The hospitality industry is no doubt feeling the ramifications of the current global health crisis.

While many are struggling, with some even forced to shut down, others are looking for alternate ways to stay in business.

Nik Spartan, owner of Metropole café in the iconic Queen Victoria Building in Sydney, is one of many cafes nationwide whose business is at risk.

Having been in the trade for more than 30 years, Nik said he has never experienced such financial hardship with his beloved café losing more than 80 per cent of business.

“Given the current health crises, business is definitely much quieter with many of the surrounding office workers now working from home and tourists are almost non-existent,” Nik said.

“Tourists are a key element in making the QVB, in the heart of Sydney, usually such a vibrant and buzzing location.”

The long-term Grinders partner has been forced to look for alternate ways to push through this one on a lifetime crisis by re-inventing operations to keep loyal staff in a job and has enforced further hygiene measures.

“We tried to keep all of our staff however had to let go of some and most are on reduced hours, if the situation continues to get worse, we will be left with no choice but to let go off more staff,” he said.

Nik said he was undertaking tougher sanitary precautions as per the advice from the Australian Government, including separating tables, and wiping tables and chairs after each customer with intense anti-germ spraying. He is also putting plans in place to manage his takeaway trade following recently changes by the Australian and NSW Governments.

“We have HeyYou App which is available to download on your phone so you can pre-order and minimise interaction” he said, which is a critical part in social distancing and reducing the spread of the virus in the community.

The effects have also resulted in Nik cutting further costs, reducing his inventory, reducing his operating hours and talking to suppliers to explore other options.

He is currently in discussions with Centre Management regarding rent in hopes to find relief in order to keep his business alive.

“Most of all we are trying to stay positive and appreciate the simple things in life such family and friends who we love the most.”

Nik has been serving his local community, offering breakfast and lunch daily, as well as attracting hundreds of customers weekly with the popular Grinders Source blend, which is a versatile, fruity and complex three origin blend made up of 100% Arabica Fairtrade Organic coffees from Ethiopia, Papua New Guinea and Nicaragua.

“We love the support that a large company like Grinders gives us without losing that personal one-to-one customer service which is so important to us,” Mr Spartan said of their seven-year collaboration.

“We would like to thank our loyal clientele, family & friends with many coming out of their way to still support us as well as having overwhelming messages and phone calls of support.”

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