Staff shortages and quiet streets are a ‘lose-lose’ for Wellington Hospital

Matt McLaughlin visited three closed cafes in Wellington's CBD before he could buy his morning coffee.

Chris McKeen / Stuff

Matt McLaughlin visited three closed cafes in Wellington’s CBD before he could buy his morning coffee.

Wellington hospitality businesses weathering a perfect storm of staff shortages and quiet streets are trying to innovate to stay afloat.

Some are cutting working hours, reducing opening hours or expanding the online offer – but many are unsure how long they can stay above water.

According to Wellington data firm Dot Loves Data, Eftpos spending in the city center fell by 42% in 2022, compared to the second half of 2021.

Matt McLaughlin, director of the Hoff Hospitality Group, visited three closed cafes in Wellington’s CBD this week before he could buy his morning coffee. He described the situation of his companies as “lose-lose”.

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“The irony is that I don’t have staff, but I don’t have customers to serve,” he said.

Roger Young has been part of the Wellington hotel scene for 30 years. The owner of Fidels and Havana Bar said the lack of government support, combined with staff shortages, was worse than the last two lockdowns.

Fidels cafe owner Roger Young and general manager Claudia Brochu say they are working day-to-day to stay open.


Fidels cafe owner Roger Young and general manager Claudia Brochu say they are working day-to-day to stay open.

“It is a voluntary confinement. We retreat to the rhythm of the knots. Over the next month many businesses will close here. We are all hammered,” he said.

The government’s resurgence payment was a welcome aid, but only covered half of his salary commitments.

“It doesn’t go far enough. You have to be down 40% from the last six weeks, but we were already down,” Young said.

He will meet with his accountant to decide how long his business can continue to operate at current levels.

“I am convinced that the 80% wage subsidy would really help pay the rent. It’s one thing to tell everyone to stay home, but you have to take care of the businesses that are hurting the most. »

Another long-standing Wellington cafe in the heart of downtown recently closed.

A sign on the door of Victoria St Cafe, a large restaurant on the corner of Victoria and Bond St, read on Tuesday: ‘Due to the end of our lease, we are closed. We appreciate the support you have given us over the years, thank you.

Phone calls to the cafe went unanswered.


A cascade of central problems from Wellington left behind a struggling Golden Mile.

Victoria St Cafe was shortlisted as a finalist for NZ Café of the Year 2016 in the Best Metro/CBD Café in the Wellington Region category.

More than 300 of the 550 employees of the online auction site Trade Me are based in Wellington. Last week, the company offered each staff member a $50 voucher to spend on local businesses.

“We know local small businesses are struggling because of Covid-19, so we wanted to help out while giving our people something to brighten their day,” spokeswoman Annie Brown said.

Shepherd Elliot, owner of Shepherd in Eva St, said the situation in the town center was “disastrous”.

He was looking to the council for a boost to help encourage people to get out to support local businesses.

“If we can bring people back to the city and make Wellington more vibrant, the advice that makes that happen is what needs to happen for us,” Elliot said.

On Thursday, Mayor Andy Foster said central government appeared to have cooled off on a council plan for vouchers to help support struggling businesses.

The voucher system was just one of many measures being considered in talks between Wellington City Council and central government, although he did not give details of the others.

“The city center is suffering badly, we need the government to step up,” Foster said.

The Dominion Post publishes a new weekly column every Wednesday, where we celebrate the best of Wellington hospitality. If you know about the opening of a new bar, cafe or restaurant, or any interesting or innovative event, send an e-mail [email protected] with ‘Kai Time’ in the subject line.


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