Kiwi restaurant adapting as COVID-19 crisis rages on in United Kingdom

While the pulse of the New Zealand economy is slowly beating stronger, some Kiwi companies overseas are very nearly flatlining. 

It's being felt hardest in London, where Kiwi hospitality businesses are in desperate need of resuscitation. 

The courtyard at King Cross' Caravan is usually overflowing with diners. Hundreds flock to it for unrivalled Kiwi hospitality. But like its plants, it is a business that's been left to the elements to fend for itself. 

"No denying that it is pretty shit," says co-founder Laura Harper-Hinton.

Harper-Hinton launched Caravan in London ten years ago with her partner Chris Ammerman and friend Miles Kirby. It started out as one small restaurant but now they have six and employ 400 people. 2020 was meant to be their most profitable year yet.

"We were in expansion mode, do you know what I mean? We were probably about to open another restaurant," says Harper-Hinton.

Instead, they had to close all of them.

"It was just devastating at the time because we were closing without any view or understanding of when we may reopen," Ammerman says.

That limbo has lasted three months and counting and there is still no guidance from the government about when they can open their doors again.

"Do we even have a viable business anymore? That is a question you do ask yourself," says Harper-Hinton.

They are adapting to the climate, though, by launching a takeaway and delivery service.

"It's something we have never really done before, so it has been pretty hard," says Kirby.

Caravan is not just known for its delicious food, but its coffee as well. It exports beans and blends from its own roastery to clients all over Europe.

"Most of our business is wholesale. It did fall off a cliff when COVID hit," says Ammerman.

It has pivoted to focus on small household orders, a part of the business that has grown ten-fold since March.

"We've just got to try and make the best out of a bad experience. I think that is certainly a philosophy we have always had at Caravan, is trying to find the positive," says Harper-Hinton. 

"We have got the passion and the desire to work as hard as we possibly can to get it right," says Kirby.

A Kiwi can-do attitude that will go a long way in steering this caravan through the COVID crisis.