Picnics, drive-ins - Auckland restaurants adapt to new norms

Source: 1News

From picnics, to drive-ins, it's a new dawn for the Auckland food scene with Covid-19 forcing the hospitality sector to diversify.

Auckland food service with a differnce.

Remember the old drive in movies? Well, how about drive in dining? It's the latest craze at Indian restaurant V.T. Station in Auckland's Newmarket. To survive the latest lockdown, they came up with a new concept called Picnic on Wheels.

"It's pretty common in India to eat in your car or pop the bonnet and actually eat on your bonnet, especially in bigger cities. So, I guess it was trying to bring that concept here but it's a bit more comfortable," says the co-owner of the restaurant Angela Gaikwad.

"It's a huge shift I think being able to have picnics. I think it's become the new thing and it'll be interesting to see how all that has changed for us."

Gaikwad and her husband together made wooden tables that rest on your car's windowsills and allows customers to experience restaurant quality food while in the comfort of their vehicles.

They even got loaned a parking lot during lockdown, and the whole concept has been a hit, increasing their lockdown revenue by 30 per cent. Now, they're looking at ways they can continue Picnic on Wheels even after the traffic light system kicks in.

The Gaikwad's aren't the only business owners getting creative to stay afloat though.

The Tearooms Cafe and Eatery in Auckland's Birkenhead has been making some of those lush picnic hampers we've been seeing on our social media recently.

"It's been really challenging to be honest, obviously we've had to come up with new and innovative ideas to try and pivot and quite frankly if we didn't adapt, the business would most likely have died. So, we've come up with a few different ideas to get some revenue through the doors, those being the picnic hampers which has been really successful," says the cafe's owner Steven Taramoeroa.

Since introducing these picnic hampers, they've increased they're revenue by 10 per cent during lockdown.

"The feedback that we've received so far is that they'd still like to be able to have the option to picnic outside as well as coming indoors which is really cool so it's definitely something we'll continue to do," says Taramoeroa.

For those hesitant about mixing with crowds, Cazador on Auckland's popular Dominion Road is providing three course feasts that get delivered right to your front door, and they too are planning to continue this after lockdown.

"We do anticipate that at some point during the year we might face some kind of closure again, whether its members of our team have Covid or whatever, we have no certainty about the future but knowing we have adaptability in our business is a real boost," says Cazador's owner Rebecca Smidt.

Alternative dining options the new norm, and a saving grace for these businesses who are hoping to inspire others to do the same.