Auckland hospitality business Parked Up has been pummeled by Covid-19 restrictions, but the business is continually evolving according to Government restrictions.
Nick O'Callaghan, owner of events and beer garden venue Parked Up, has been closed for almost the entire duration of both of the lockdowns periods. He has lost tens of thousands of dollars in trade and is unsure when business will return to what it was.
But the business, located in the historic former caretaker's building at Victoria Park, has pivoted from a cafe and beer garden pre-lockdown to an events business during level 3 and now to a micro-events business.
O'Callaghan has spent the past two weeks under level 3 2.0 building a stage and transforming the garden of his venue, splitting it into separated self-serve sections where groups can serve their own beer, wine and cook their own food on a barbecue.
The new business model requires no waiters and allows groups to hold events without mixing with other customers or staff members. It will have live music and can cater to up to 10 micro-events at one time.
Parked Up had 19 events booked for the period that became the first lockdown that were cancelled and it did not receive another inquiry or booking in the two and a half months that followed.
O'Callaghan said there was almost no point in his venue opening as there were few people in the area - even after the city moved to alert level 2, but it was taking private function bookings, and was working through what it could safely manage and host under various alert levels to make it "lockdown-proof".
The business typically relied on corporates for events and other events such as birthdays and engagement parties, but with this not expected to be back on the horizon any time soon he was pivoting to adapt with the times.
Parked Up is now talking to the New Zealand Music Commission about holding unplugged music events for tables or spaces of up to 10 people.
"I've got to change my business to something else - that's what I'm trying to achieve," O'Callaghan told the Herald.
"I've designed 10 little areas out the back where you can see the new stage where there is a couch, a bar and pour your own drinks station so people can have a party with friends."
The concept was thought up considering reluctance in the market to book events at present. The new format for the business will launch next week.
O'Callaghan's advice to other business owners was not to rush into making permanent decisions too quickly because uncertainty remained.
"As a business person, if you do decide what you are going to do, ahead of time, too early, that starts costing you - and you'll have to backtrack otherwise."
Like many small businesses at present, O'Callaghan said he was "bankrolling the business from his savings". He has been using the down time to work on the business opposed to in it, and remained optimistic for the future despite the trading environment.
"What I'm doing at the moment is diversifying what I can do within the parameters. I've got a photographer, a good friend of mine, and we're looking at creating a studio [on site] and we're about to bring in a mobile brewery."