Struggling to get through and planning for recovery

Moiety owner operators Sam Gasson and Kim Underwood. PHOTO: CHRISTINE O’CONNOR
Moiety owner operators Sam Gasson and Kim Underwood. PHOTO: CHRISTINE O’CONNOR
Sam Gasson is candid about the future of the restaurant he and partner Kim Underwood own: things will be different after Covid-19 — that is, if they make it through to the other side.

"We don’t want to go bankrupt and we want to find a way to reopen,’’ Mr Gasson said. "We’ll find a way to do that ... but in what shape and form, that’s [the] unknown ... Obviously we’re not going to finish this four-week lockdown and go back to ‘business as usual, business is fine’."

Moiety is a small restaurant in the Terminus building next to Queens Gardens, offering a five-course menu using locally sourced products.

Mr Gasson said Moiety strived to give diners a "full dining experience" — something he strongly believed would be in demand post-Covid-19.

Like a lot of small businesses right now, cash flow and paying the bills are top concerns.

"Every month we still burn through cash. Every week it’s a few thousands dollars that you’re spending on just keeping the doors shut," Mr Gasson said.

"It’s scary, in that regard."

Their landlord had offered some "relief" despite also suffering big losses because he was not able to rent out the Airbnb apartments that are above Moiety in the Terminus building.

Mr Gasson said something to stem the cost of overheads like utilities, such as a grant, would allow businesses like theirs to survive for longer in lockdown.

"I believe us being closed is the best thing for New Zealand to stop the spread.

"It’s just that thing where you’re nervously waiting and watching your savings disappear week-in, week-out."

The pair were considering what their business might look like in an Alert Level 3 setting — such as offering takeaway or delivery food.

"We trust ourselves we can adapt to the situation and come up with something that works within the parameters of what we’re allowed to do.

"That’s the only way you can approach it. You’ve got to be adaptable and willing to change to make it work, otherwise you’re not going to have a business."

While the wage subsidy had helped, Mr Gasson said the Government’s announcement of a "safe harbour protection" allowing businesses to put existing debt into hibernation was not a long-term fix.

Mr Gasson and Ms Underwood were keen to keep all their staff — Mr Gasson describing staff as their biggest asset.

"We’ve struggled to find good staff and we’ve got a really good team currently.

"We don’t want to lose that ... we want to still be able to give people a level of service we think we should be offering."

Realising he had no means of making money right now, Mr Gasson said he was stressed but it was not something he wanted to dwell on.

"If you spend more time focusing on other things and how you can better yourself in a different way now that all of a sudden you’ve got time, I think you’ll be better off for it."

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