Succeeding in small business is challenging enough. Throw in the COVID-19 pandemic and many small businesses will be lucky to survive.
With no international visitors welcome anytime soon and Queensland borders still firmly locked down to interstate visitors, Gold Coast hospitality and tourism operators such as The Paddock Bakery, Alfresco Italian and Miami Marketta have got creative out of necessity, worked with what they've got and given their all to stay in business.
Maya Scholz, co-owner of iconic foodie destination Paddock Bakery in Burleigh Heads, was devastated when COVID-19 shut their doors for a few weeks as the pandemic unfolded. But then Maya's husband Dion came up with the idea to take advantage of the cafe's corner location and two street entrance and car park.
"We weren't using our car park so we converted the area to a dual way drive-through. Our customers enter through one street, we take their order, they wait in the car park and we deliver the order to your car. They then drive out the other side," explains Scholz. "We also have a horse-float coffee cart out the front of our cafe for pedestrians and take-away."
With a limit on the number of staff who could work at any one time, Paddock Bakery initially reduced their menu but with the easing of restrictions and increased popularity, they slowly added more options back on the menu.
"The local support has been incredible. It's been really nice to have that," says Scholz. "The silver lining in all this for our business has been letting people know we're always going to be above what the world throws at us. We all stick together and everyone comes out on top."
"On a personal level, the silver lining has been reassessing and revaluing what we have. From both of us as owners to our staff and customers, we're so very grateful for what we have now."
Surfers Paradise institution of more than thirty years, Alfresco Italian restaurant came up with a novel idea to stay afloat - literally - by delivering wood fire pizzas to waterfront homes by flying surfboard.
"We had to shut as a restaurant and focus completely on takeaway and deliveries," says Alfresco owner Raffaele Velardo. "I have a passion for foiling (electric-powered hydrofoil surfboard) so I thought I'd combine that with pizza deliveries and put the two together."
Miami Marketta, an indoor/outdoor night market that's a vibrant live music venue and food destination in one, is ordinarily home to 25 stallholders and small businesses. But with COVID-19 restrictions in place, operating, as usual, is not an option.
"We've turned our undercover laneway into a drive-thru Street Food venue on Friday and Saturday nights between 5 pm and 8 pm," explains Kath Gourley, Miami Marketta's event manager. "We have a selection from our favourite Street Food vendors from slow-cooked brisket to wood-fired pizza, there is something on offer for all taste buds. You can also select from our beverage menu with some of our famous Marketta cocktails and local beers & boutique wines."
"You quite literally drive into our venue and order from your car in the laneway. You then park your car further down in the laneway and the order is brought to your car. Completely contactless and fast," she adds. "Our Street food is very fast from order to delivery so it enables us to serve up complete dishes in a couple of minutes. We're very lucky that we could adapt to drive-thru so easily."
Gourley says the local support from customers has been incredible.
"We've had so much support and love from our Gold Coast community. Gold Coasters are incredibly supportive of each other. We truly live in the most amazing place with the best kind of people. They are still coming out in droves to support us," says Gourley. "Locals know we are all small businesses and can't survive without their support. Marketta is a family-owned business and within Marketta there are so many other small family businesses as each food stall is owned by an individual family."
Destination Gold Coast estimates that the Gold Coast tourism economy will suffer a loss of $3.3 to $4.3 billion this year, as a result of a loss of 8 to 10 million tourists throughout the COVID-19 crisis. However, Destination Gold Coast CEO Annaliese Battista is confident tourists will return once Queensland's borders open.
"Now more than ever, Aussies are seeking escapism and the chance to relax and reconnect with family and friends," says Battista. "Data suggests the Gold Coast is consistently at the top of would-be travellers wish lists and we know that pent-up demand will ramp-up in response to the easing of restrictions."
*This feature has been produced in collaboration with City of Gold Coast
Australian Associated Press