Hospitality businesses say they are at breaking point after enduring lockdown restrictions, closing their doors and pivoting to new formats.
Café Istanbul owner Andy Martin says the pandemic has taken its toll and he’s looking to close his Bendigo eatery doors permanently.
“Our takings go from $1,300 a day to $300 when the pandemic is on,” Mr Martin said.
“We rely on customers walking through the door, that’s 80 per cent of our takings.
The Martin family purchased the kebab shop in October after Mr Martin lost his job as a chef when the pandemic first hit.
He said other venues across the city were also concerned about their prospects and had closed until coronavirus restrictions end.
“We can’t see ourselves financially surviving one more lockdown,” Mr Martin said.
“We need business to go as smooth as possible up until Christmas.
“I thought the only chance we had was to buy a business. We took a chance, it was probably a silly thing to do but at least we tried.”
The Victorian Small Business Commission received almost 20,000 enquiries during the 2020–21 financial year, a growth of 47 per cent from the previous year.
Commissioner Lynda McAlary-Smith said they were responding to an increasing number of queries from small business owners needing support and guidance in relation to closing their business.
Not financially viable
Café Istanbul will open to 10 indoor patrons from Friday under the state government’s easing of regional Victoria lockdown restrictions.
Rifle Brigade Hotel manager Leanne Scholtz said the added 20 patrons for outdoor dining was not viable for the 360-capacity venue.
“I think they needed to be a little bit more realistic with bigger businesses,” Ms Scholtz said.
“We can still do this, we still do this safely, we follow all the rules, we social distance everybody, we do the masks, we do the QR Codes, we do everything the right way.
Minister for Small Business Jaala Pulford said cash grants for regional businesses affected by the current lockdown would proceed until September 17.
Need to get community back on track
Tooborac Hotel and Brewery owner James Carlin said the need for his staff and community to return to normal made his decision to open his doors — for “pizza, parmas and pies” — for him.
“It is becoming really difficult to get up every morning and put your smiley face on.
“We’re all competent business owners, trust us to do our jobs and let us do it.”