As hospo goes, Soul Bar & Bistro has weathered the Covid-19 storm very well. Their doors are still open (they've been down to Wednesday-Sunday but are back to 7-days as of tonight) and they've not made any staff redundant - they've been proud to be able to support their staff all the way through.
They've had to have more staff on through level two to meet the requirements of table service only and only one server per table - and that's all while operating at 40% of their normal capacity, seating 100 rather than their usual crowd of 250 people. Soul Bar & Bistro's General Manager George Dennigan reveals that they have prepared to move back to level 1 by going back to their full menu, on their usual stationery as opposed to a restricted menu of just the favourites on laminated sheets during level 2: much less their style.
George credits their regulars for supporting them through this rough time. Soul Bar & Bistro are one of the lucky eateries; they've had to go out of their way, but they've come out the other side in one piece.
Others haven't been so lucky. Morsel owner Lea Garcia-Purves was inundated before lockdown by a deluge of customers wanting cinnamon buns - that rush saved her business. But now that lockdown is over, she is closing the doors of her tiny CBD cafe anyway after level 2 saw just a few customers each day.
Along the road at Elliot Stables, under level 2, they were only allowed 100 people in the food court shared between their 12 businesses. With no rent reprieve, it's still uncertain whether they'll be able to keep their businesses open even after we're at level 1.
Down in Wellington, Courtenay Place bars and eateries are struggling to prevent the iconic street's sense of community dying at the hands of any closures - which at the moment are still looming uncertain.
For many of us, level 1 is a joy - we'll be able to queue closer at the supermarket and hug indiscriminately again - but for hospo businesses, level 1 is a breath of air to a dying man.
Soul Bar & Bistro is well-known and well-loved, in a high-foot traffic location and still they've struggled. They're delighted to be putting more tables out so they can go back to full capacity thanks to those who have continued to support them. And it is thanks to those who have supported businesses that they can continue to operate. It's wonderful we're at level 1 and the restrictions are lifted but we can't stop now. Keep supporting local so that there contines to be local to support.