Cafes cautiously prepare for visitors

Wednesday 5 May 2021 | Written by Alana Musselle | Published in Economy, National


Cafes cautiously prepare for visitors
Ake Patia Gempton and her staff at Reefside Cafe in Avarua. 21050401

Rarotonga and its many cafes scattered over the island have been catering to only their local market for over a year now. They are now preparing to serve Kiwi visitors who will be arriving here in little less than two weeks.

With the announcement of the borders opening and overseas customers to soon return, there are a range of different emotions and responses.

All share a general feeling of relief and excitement, but there is also the presence of fear, doubt and much speculation at what approaches when the hoard of visitors walk through the airport gates.

Beluga Rarotonga, located in Arorangi, has already begun to practice precautionary behaviour such as social distancing. Staff are encouraged to refrain from hugging customers upon arrival to get into the habit of being cautious when the island once again becomes fuller.

Beluga already values the importance of cleanliness and hygiene but will continue to remain even more diligent in this.

“We feel apprehensive about the opening of the borders,” said owner, Lou Haywood. “We understand that it is something that has to be done, but it will surely be challenging.”

Reefside Cafe has already been proactive in their thinking regarding their plans for when they greet smiling tourists once more. A delivery system is being looked into for once the borders open up to limit too many clusters of people in the cafe at once.

“This will hopefully help to keep on top of hygiene and social distancing,” said Ake Patia Gempton from Reefside.

They plan to separate tables and incorporate the use of face masks and gloves for at least the first few weeks that the island welcomes visitors.

Staff will also be given the option to be flexible with their hours and decide on whether they are comfortable to come into work.

“We want to give them that choice as it is understandable there may be some fear felt,” Gempton said.

The common feeling shared by many cafe owners is that they are generally very excited at the news but still have their doubts which are causing them to take precautions.

Owners have done the best with what they had for the past year and a half and are looking forward to a little less weight on their shoulders with the arrival of overseas visitors.

The staff at Cafe Jireh are looking forward to seeing their full hours return once the borders open.

The owners, Deborah and Craig Graham, have used the past year and a half to upskill their staff and train them in areas that they were not usually familiar with.

Craig and Deborah Graham who are looking forward to sharing the ‘Best custard square in Raro’ with tourists once more. 21050402

“We have coped okay and have been fortunate enough to be able to remain open all this time thanks to the Government’s wage subsidy and our local customers,” said Deborah.

“We are definitely looking forward to seeing our visitors from New Zealand once more,” Craig added.

Cafe Jireh will not be practicing social distancing when the tourists arrive. “Our take on it is that if there is no Covid on our island, then what is the point?” they said.

Located across from the airport, they look forward to welcoming the first round of visitors very shortly.