It's always a toss-up whether to open on a public holiday or not, Big Orange owner David Sutherland says.

"You make the decision to be open, or you don't."

His cafe was one of the busiest in Whanganui's Victoria Ave on Monday, Labour Day.

The Big Orange is only ever closed on Christmas Day and New Year's Day. But he said the staff working for him on Monday were all getting the equivalent of two and a half times their usual pay.

Advertisement

They get paid time and a half for working on that day. Then they also get another paid day off on some other day they can choose in the coming year. Or they can choose to take cash instead of that.

Mr Sutherland expects them to work on public holidays if they are rostered, unless they have negotiated in advance to have the day off. Staff rostered to work on Mondays do end up working more public holidays.

The extra pay makes working a holiday weekend all right, staff member Cassidy Longie said. She was able to smile behind the counter.

Mr Sutherland has to make his own decision on what is worthwhile.

"It's a cost that you might not reach on the day, but you will reach long-term," he said.

He had 12 staff working on Monday. It wasn't as busy as the Saturday of Labour Weekend, but busier than the Sunday.

He may or may not make a profit after paying wages. But he said at least one other popular central city cafe was closed, and that might help.

"We might win by default, because other places are shut."