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Kiwi-owned hospitality venues left struggling in UK lockdown

In the face of forced closures, three Kiwi-owned restaurants in London are reinventing their business models to survive through Covid-19 restrictions.

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Shops and schools in the UK are reopening tomorrow after 10 weeks of lockdown but cafes, bars and restaurants will have to wait another month before they can open. Source: 1 NEWS

After two and a half months, some schools and shops will reopen in England as lockdown measures gradually ease but Britain’s pub culture, bars, restaurants and café’s will not reopen until July.

Kiwi-owned Ozone Coffee, situated in London’s Bethnal Green, is a popular eatery with city workers.

Normally on any given day it's full to capacity but for the past two months its been in hibernation.

Chief operating officer Lizzie Gurr says due to the Covid-19 crisis, she’s been involved in some of the toughest decisions in the history of the company. 

She says the restaurant has only managed to stay afloat because of its operations in New Zealand, online sales and customer support.

"There's the obvious very real financial challenges which are completely critical, there’s the human impact on individuals in terms of their employment, their well-being and the morale is different".

Across town in Brixton, Mel Brown just opened her new bar and bistro last November and has found the lockdown extremely tough, especially having missed out on government grants.

"That grant would’ve have given us £25,000 ($49,765 NZD) and we miss out by £1,500 ($2,985) so its life threatening," said the former Aucklander.

To date, one million businesses in the UK have been forced to rely on $30 billion dollars in handouts from the government furlough scheme, but some say it’s just a temporary lifeline that doesn’t account for a new Covid-19 reality.

Hundreds of thousands of pubs, bars, cafes and restaurants have been forecast to close permanently.  

"I think the ones that will struggle now are the ones with small premises so as the restrictions are ease and if social distancing is still in place then it’s really going to hit their bottom line," said Bronwen Horton, the founder of NZ Women Business Network in London.

In South Peckham, Jane Alty owns and runs The Begging Bowl, a Thai restaurant which during the British summer she says is full with customers.

The Wellington-born chef says she’s had to reinvent the menu and invest in online delivery to survive for the next four weeks.

"Things are changing constantly but we need to reopen and we've decided the best way is a pre-ordered takeaway, we hope to do cook at home packs that you can do at home and some YouTube videos so you can cook at home."