Local businesses surrounding Eden Park hope big post-Covid crowds keep coming

One look at the packed stands at Eden Park in the opening week of Super Rugby Aotearoa and it was clear to see the post-lockdown cash injection brought on by the sport’s return.

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Small businesses in Kingsland were hit hard by the lockdown but rugby’s return is getting them back on their feet. Source: 1 NEWS

But it turns out the Blues aren’t the only winners in Auckland at the moment.

Rugby’s return to Eden Park has been good news for small businesses in the local community, Kingsland.

Two of the hardest-hit businesses in the area – restaurants Kingsland Social and Phil’s Kitchen – happen to both run by Phil Clark and his wife Maryne, who told 1 NEWS they have to juggle work and family life every day.

“We got three children… three, two and three months,” Clark told 1 NEWS.

The couple puts everything into business in the hopes of one day buying a home in Auckland.

“We're here at 6am, finish up at 4:30, I'll be straight across at Phil's Kitchen at 5:30. We'll be doing dinner service till 10:30.”

New Zealand’s Covid-19 lockdown hit them and their staff hard while their son Beau was born a week into Level Four.

“We lost thousands of dollars worth of stock,” Clark said.

“We have a figure of $35,000 that we have to somehow put back into the rest of the year somehow.

“We'll have to keep on working.”

With such a daunting number hanging over them, last weekend’s sold out Eden Park and the thousands of hungry fans before and after the match helped bring in a week's worth of income in a single day.

The couple said they “need every weekend like that”.

Blues and All Blacks prop Ofa Tu’ungafasi told 1 NEWS it’s stories like the Clark’s that has inspired the Auckland franchise so far.

“I hope that we will continue to play the way we do and continue to bring fans in cause that's helping out businesses like this one and I know there's a lot more out there,” he said.

Clark had a cheeky challenge for the undefeated Blues, who play the Highlanders at Eden Park tonight, in response.

“You keep winning and people will booking – we're almost booked out again this weekend!”