As of today, your favourite South Australian cafes and restaurants will be allowed to seat up to 20 people, but what do cafe owners think about these changes? (Image source: Concrete Playground)
By Chelsea Shepherd | @Chelsea15183902
Millennials rejoice: on May 8 we received the information we’d all been waiting for – as of May 11, we were finally allowed to start brunching again.
Now of course, the new state-wide regulations allow us to now begin dining in (in groups less than 10) at our favourite cafes and restaurants.
Pubs and nightclubs are exempt from those regulations, meaning that we’ll all have to wait a little bit longer for that first delicious beverage at our local watering hole – but brunch is a pretty good trade off.
Although these regulations are beneficial for the general public, more specifically millennials who opt to eat avocado on toast rather than buy a house, they may not be financially viable for cafes themselves.
John Langdon is the owner of the Coffee Branch cafe and had a lot to say about their experience with dine in restrictions easing.
“We’ve noticed a drop-off of up to 70 per cent – 80 per cent at its worst, but over the last few weeks, we’ve slowly reclaimed about 15 per cent or so. So at the moment, we’re at about 60 per cent overall loss in trade, during the work week,” Mr Langdon said.
The Cafe had to lay off both a casual and full-time worker as a result of COVID-19 but Mr Langdon says since restrictions have eased, the full-time worker has been able to return to work.
Fortunately, as the Coffee Branch is predominantly a takeaway business to begin with, they had the means to remain open during COVID-19.
“Our patrons are mostly office workers in the area, so we remained open to keep our services available and to stay relevant,” Mr Langdon said.
“We’ve also gained a lot of new customers due to the fact that their regular venues weren’t trading.”
Since the 10 person or less dining restrictions came into place on the May 11, the Coffee Branch has seen just a slight return to what was normal a few months ago.
“I have noticed a small increase in business from what was, about three weeks ago”.
“It is nice to have people dine outside again. Consumer confidence is slowly creeping back.”
As of Friday May 22, cafes and restaurants will allow an additional 10 people to dine indoors as part of the stage two rollout of restrictions.
As the Coffee Branch trades solely on weekdays, Mr Landon said, “I’d have preferred to lift the restrictions for dine-in customers on Monday 25th, rather than Friday 22nd, however, I can see the benefit for venues that make up a large portion of their turnover during weekends.”
“Tourism was the main draw, being a CBD coffee shop. Without it, there’s barely anyone around during Saturday trade hours.”
Mr Langdon says he looks forward to accommodating dine-in patrons once again.
Small Business Commissioner John Chapman supports the Government’s steady rollout of restrictions easing.
“I think a steady and cautious approach is the best place to start”, Mr Chapman said.
In terms of cafes opening up dining for up to ten people, he said, “Following safe distancing as much as possible to keep staff and customers safe is the best advice I can give.”
“They [cafes] have to weigh up whether it is financially viable for them to open up for dining outside.”
Enforcing protocols for customers to follow to ensure a steady turnover for the business is a positive initiative for cafe owners.
Many cafes have implemented signage stating that tables are reserved for customers who are ordering food, to avoid the limited tables being occupied by people finding seats to consume their takeaway coffee on.
It also means that businesses are earning much needed revenue by regularly turning over tables with higher paying customers ordering food.
There’s no official word on when the number of diners will increase further.
“The green light needs to come from SA Health and the senior police officials to remove restrictions in the state”, said Mr Chapman.
So, until then let’s enjoy finally being able to dine in again.