The holiday season is a balancing act for hospitality business owners as they weigh up whether to stay open and incur extra staff costs on public holidays, or take a break. Laurel Stowell talked to two Whanganui businesspeople with differing views.
Some cafes disappointed customers by being closed over the festive period but The Orange was among those that stayed open despite public holiday costs.
Vikash Kumar and his brother bought the popular cafe on the corner of Ridgway St and Victoria Ave just over a month ago. Kumar has found it busier than he expected.
On his first weekend day it did 250 coffees, and since then there have regularly been 300 customers a day, and 500 at weekends.
Previous owner Peter Huijs opened the cafe only on week days but Kumar quickly decided it should be open every day. During the Christmas-New Year holiday period, it was only closed on December 25.
Staff working on public holidays get paid time and a half, and permanent staff get a day off in lieu as well. That means a permanent person usually paid $20 an hour will be getting the equivalent of $50 an hour on those days, Kumar said.
This holiday season public holidays fell on December 25 and 28 and January 1 and 4. Customers paid a 15 per cent surcharge on those days and Kumar said it doesn't cover the extra wage cost.
He has had several years' experience in food businesses and is undeterred by the extra cost.
"I just open on a public holiday to serve my community. If they have holidays they want to sit in a cafe on a sunny day.
"Instead of thinking about money, I'm just thinking about feeding more people."
Regular customers might buy 300 coffees a year from him. They would be disappointed if the cafe is closed, he said.
Kumar has 12 staff, including experienced barista Peter Ross, and he will be looking for more when he opens The Orange Cafe for evening meals and cocktails this year. He has hired Adarsh (Dash) Kumar as head chef, and there will be an extensive bar menu.
"I'm pretty excited for that," he said.
One of many cafes that closed over Christmas-New Year is the new Behind The Door On 4 cafe at Upokongaro.
People have been pouring across the new Upokongaro cycle bridge, either on foot or on bicycles, and looking for food and amusement in the rural village.
Cafe owner Virginia Kinder said the cafe was extremely busy through late November and December and she wanted to give the staff a rest. She closed after December 23 and will reopen on January 6.
"We run with a skeleton staff and I feel they're totally entitled to have Christmas and New Years and everything off, with their family and friends," Kinder said.
Kinder is from a sheep and beef farm and new to the hospitality business, but she knew that employing staff on a public holiday would be more expensive.
"It still costs quite a bit to have them not at work too," she said.
She appreciated customers coming out from town to support the cafe, but said the main thing was "to give everyone a proper break".