Coronavirus: Restaurants, bakeries share plans to reopen under COVID-19 alert level 3

Picture of hand sanitiser and register
DIY deliveries, set pick-up areas, revised hours and customer registers are among the changes on the menu. Photo credit: File.

Food businesses across the country are set to start trading under COVID-19 alert level 3 on Tuesday, offering click and collect and delivery options to customers hungry for a change.

A month in lockdown has been tough for many, but particularly small and medium enterprises (SMEs) trying to survive without cash flow. Newshub spoke to two Auckland-based restaurants and a specialty bread shop about their plans to reopen - and how they'll make and deliver contactless food.

David Meagher, the owner of Mt Albert restaurant and bar Sal Rose, said his business had always offered takeaway services, but from next Tuesday, hours will change, he'll run a reduced menu and offer delivery and click and collect to customers, abiding by strict health and safety standards.

"We've implemented an online platform (Mobi2go) for click and collect and click and delivery. Initially, we'll operate from midday to 8pm," Meagher said.

His staff have been offered a choice of tasks, including food preparation, cleaning and maintenance, taking orders, packing and contactless delivery.

"We're going to manage delivery internally: it's one way of keeping our staff employed.

"Initially, we may have a minimum spend, which will be done on a per kilometre radius, e.g. out to 2km, around $5. Once the spend is over a certain amount, e.g. $50, delivery will be free," Meagher explained.

For click and collect orders, he uses Menulog. A minimum two-metre distance between customers and staff is required, which means customers will have a couple of options when picking up their food.

"We're going to position a table in front where the bifold windows open and that's where we'll put food with a number for customers to collect," he said.

"If people don't feel comfortable coming in, we can take food out to their vehicle: they can drive through our car park and we'll leave food on their bonnet, walk away and they can get out of their car and pick it up," he explained.

There was some initial confusion over whether payWave could be used for restaurants and takeaway bars as well as drive-thrus - but that's now been approved, Meagher said.

"If we have customers who haven't ordered online, want to phone in an order and there's no other way of paying, we'll have an EFTPOS terminal where they collect the food and they can swipe their card there," he added.

Rebecca Smidt, owner of Cazador on Dominion Rd, said that as with Sal Rose, they'll follow guidelines from the Restaurant Association, such as fewer staff preparing food onsite, wearing gloves and masks, washing hands and sanitising surfaces.   

"We have a sanitation roster and supplier check-in register for contact tracing," Smidt said.

"All orders are made online or by phone and delivered, or placed in the customer's car boot if they select kerbside collection." 

Wild Wheat retail operations manager, Sarah Fearnside said that during lockdown, the business has run two deliveries each week for three of its shops. 

Shop managers help to coordinate orders and deliveries and the owner juggles both baking and deliveries. By keeping to a small delivery area, delivery is free with a $20 minimum spend. 

"There's a bit of a 'lockdown dance' that seems to happen if we deliver and the person is outside - two steps forward, two steps back, placing the delivery quickly in the agreed spot and then the two-step starts again," Fearnside said. 

When alert level 3 starts, nothing will change except that stores will allow customers to pick up bread in 15-minute slots, using a "pick-up bench."

"Customers can also ring as they arrive and wait until they're allowed in, one at a time, to pick up their order," Fearnside explained.

"We'll have the same measures in place as we do at level 4: two-metre distancing, hand washing, use of gloves [and] sanitiser, but with more pickups happening, we'll use more tape and signage."

As New Zealand counts down the last few days of lockdown, for food businesses starved of cash flow and customers hanging out for take-out, Tuesday is likely to be a very busy day.