Otago Daily Times

Covid one hit too many for restau­ra­teur

WANAKA

- KER­RIE WATERWORTH ker­rie.waterworth@odt.co.nz Restaurants · Dining Out · Recreation

A PI­O­NEER­ING Wanaka chef who sur­vived a fire de­stroy­ing his restau­rant and the eco­nomic down­turn from the Covid­19 lock­down says the Auck­land re­stric­tions in Au­gust were his third strike and he is out of busi­ness.

Ode Con­scious Din­ing chef and co­owner Luke Parkin­son opened the restau­rant in Post Of­fice Lane, Wanaka, in May 2017 with the phi­los­o­phy of us­ing only or­ganic, eth­i­cal, sus­tain­able, sea­sonal in­gre­di­ents, pri­mar­ily from the re­gion.

He said the first six months were ‘‘re­ally bad’’ but by the sum­mer he was full just about ev­ery night.

Af­ter 15 months Cui­sine mag­a­zine awarded the restau­rant its first hat but 48 hours later, fire gut­ted the restau­rant.

In Au­gust 2019, a year later, Ode had re­opened with a staff of 17 and was do­ing ‘‘re­ally well’’ un­til the first Covid­19 lock­down closed its doors.

‘‘At the end of May we did not have enough funds to re­open af­ter the first lock­down ended, so I said I am go­ing to make ap­ple crum­ble for $10 each, with free home de­liv­ery.

‘‘I thought I would sell a few hun­dred and I woke up the next day to my man­ager fran­ti­cally try­ing to con­tact me say­ing we had al­most 900 or­ders and what should they do?’’

Mr Parkin­son said he sold two tonnes of ap­ple crum­ble and made $20,000, enough to pay off his sup­pli­ers and ‘‘bump­start us re­open­ing on July 2’’.

Dur­ing the Auck­land re­stric­tions he re­alised 80% of his cus­tomers were from out of town, he said.

On Fri­day night Mr Parkin­son an­nounced he had made the ‘‘heart­wrench­ing’’ de­ci­sion to close the restau­rant on Novem­ber 8.

‘‘It is not that it is a bad busi­ness model and if we did not have Covid, I would be in the money.

‘‘I don’t feel a fail­ure. I feel that this is out of my con­trol,’’ he said.

Mr Parkin­son said he was liv­ing one day at a time but was ‘‘reach­ing out to in­vestors and part­ners’’ in a last­ditch ef­fort to keep Ode open.

‘‘A lot of peo­ple are strug­gling in Wanaka, even those with good foot traf­fic.

‘‘It is just the way it is with no in­ter­na­tional tourists.

‘‘A lot of peo­ple are feel­ing the pres­sure,’’ Mr Parkin­son said.

 ?? PHOTO: KER­RIE WATERWORTH ?? Wanaka Ode or­ganic restau­rant owner Lu­cas Parkin­son is clos­ing his doors early next month.
PHOTO: KER­RIE WATERWORTH Wanaka Ode or­ganic restau­rant owner Lu­cas Parkin­son is clos­ing his doors early next month.

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