The chance to dine-in at restaurants under New Zealand's move to alert level 2 last month was reason to pop the bubbly for many Aucklanders.
Those who had birthdays over the Covid-19 lockdown or were simply missing their friends jumped at the chance to finally get together, leading to strong group bookings, Krishna Botica, co-owner of Cafe Hanoi, Xuxu Dumpling Bar and Saan, said.
"The vibe was celebratory, positive, and now a couple of weeks later you can feel a little deflation out there," she said.
Now the new reality was setting in and alert level 1 couldn't come quick enough, Botica said.
The city centre was dead quiet. There were no tourists, no international business travellers, no concert and event-goers, and many daily office workers were still working from home.
Botica didn't know what the new normal would be for her businesses.
"We know for sure we are not going to get back to 100 per cent," she said.
"We are hoping for 80 per cent, but that can only happen at level 1."
Botica's restaurants have been operating under the three Ss of level 2 - separated, seated, single-server.
Depending on the layout and size of restaurants across the country, these limits have affected some restaurants worse than others.
Cafe Hanoi has also had to implement a booking system for the first time, whereas customers previously could just drop in.
Being able to allow more people into her restaurants under alert level will be an important boost, Botica said.
But more important will be the hope that alert level 1 brings more people back to the city in the form of office workers, those attending events and eventually international travellers.
Ofir Yudilevich, owner of The Jefferson whisky bar in downtown Auckland, said bars had also been crippled under alert level 2 and that he couldn't wait to move to level 1.
The Jefferson's usual 160 person capacity had been reduced to 60 to adhere to level 2 safety measures.
Yudilevich had been forced to operate with more staff than usual to ensure each table was served by only one person, so while revenue had taken a massive blow he's also had to double his labour costs.
"One Friday night [during level 2] we had 196 people through the door, and we would have turned away about 200 more," he said.
"We don't think it's fair to be treated differently under level 2 than crowds of people at the supermarket or anywhere else."
Level 1 will mean social distancing rules no longer apply and people will be free to stand and drink at the bar while mixing and mingling with others.
Matt Jorgensen, owner of Auckland's Ding Dong Lounge and Infinity night clubs, said alert level 1 sounded like "heaven".
He did a test night under alert level 2 but said it wasn't economical for him to be open.
"One of my clubs takes 550 people, so a 100 person limit is very restrictive," he said.
"Especially because we are only open two nights a week and we are only busy for kind of six hours a week, so if we can't fill the place up we can't make any money."
When it came to his customers, they were especially looking forward to one thing - the dance floor.
"It's dancing, it's being able to interact with other people - just basic socialising - that's what people have been missing," Jorgensen said.
Yudilevich, meanwhile, believed it would be two or three months before people got back into their usual habits for going out at night.
"It used to be if you walked into a bar and saw it was empty you'd think 'let's go somewhere else', now people's minds have changed and they see an empty bar and think 'this is safe, let's stay'."
Currently, people have been booking tables and staying longer at one establishment, which has hurt revenue for all hospitality, Yudilevich said.
"Winter is traditionally low for hospitality too, so it's going to be a long time [to recover].
"But businesses and hospitality will get through, we've always been great at coming up with new ways to entertain people."
Botica expected her eateries to take until November to recover to something close to their old levels.
But she also had seen positives from the crisis.
The graduated alert levels had helped her better understand who her customers are.
Under level 2, her regular, local customers were the first to return.
Next it should be the office workers returning under level 1, followed by those attending concerts and events, before eventually international travellers arrive back.
Separating out the different market segments - and how many dollars they brought in the front door - had earlier been hard to do at her city eateries, she said.
She also said all the restaurateurs she spoke with were thankful for their customers' support.
While some customers may have taken the city's great restaurants for granted in the past, now they were making extra effort to support them.
"And they are vocal about it, they are saying, 'we want to support you guys, when can we come in'."