An Auckland-based takeaway business is reeling in customers despite the country being in recession.
During COVID-19 alert levels 3 and 2, Marsic Brothers, a family-owned business in Glen Innes, has seen locals queuing for fresh fish and takeaways.
Daniel Marsic, who owns the business along with his father, Wally and sister Stephanie, says one reason why his shop has remained so popular could be in the way customers are treated.
"We'll see a couple of the kids waiting and we'll put some chips in a bag for them. There's no catch - it's nice to do that kind of thing," Marsic said.
"In the Croatian culture, elders are referred to as 'Uncle' and 'Auntie', so when elders come in, we greet them in the same way."
The fish is bought at auction, where flounder prices range from $18.95 to $26.95 per kilo. Those who can't afford it might buy part of the fish as an ingredient instead. Fish heads are used for soup, bones and scraps for pet food, and guts for burley.
"Without community recipes, a lot of that fish can be wasted. Part of the success is the varying cultures that come in that can use the different part of the fish," Marsic explained.
"Because we're busy and can sell everything, our stock is always turned over and people see that."
Like many hospitality businesses, the shop saw a drop in trade during lockdown. But unlike cafés and restaurants, having no dine-in services makes it easier to manage social distancing. Marsic encourages businesses suffering from loss of lunch crowds to hang in there.
"We've been here 50 plus years and have seen a few recessions. At the end of the day, people still need to eat."
Following Monday's announcement that Auckland will move to alert level 1 on Thursday, Restaurant Association chief executive Marisa Bidois said removing costs associated with single server restrictions can't come soon enough.
"Moving between alert levels hit our industry hard, just as we were starting to get back on our feet. Any future return to a higher alert level could be the final nail in the coffin for a number of our businesses," Bidois said.
A September member survey showed signs of improvement for hospitality businesses. Those operating at heavily reduced revenues had fallen to 44 percent, from 68 percent in August. But in Auckland, the majority of members (80 percent) said their income was heavily reduced compared to the same time last year.