Burger Culture owner and head chef Chris Williams. Photo: Jonty Dine.

Hospitality in the time of corona

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From burgers and butter chicken to coffee and kebabs, Nelsonians were sure to get their fast food fix once Level Four lockdown lifted.

Eateries around the city are adapting to the new normal with contactless deliveries, limited menus and no in store dining.

Burger Culture owner Chris Williams says it’s a strange feeling being busy with no customers inside.

“Cooking people food but not seeing them is very odd. It doesn’t quite feel like hospitality at the moment.” Despite the setback, Chris is confident they will recover from the crisis.

“Nelson have got our back, we are super blessed to have people support us, I couldn’t thank them enough.”

Chris says the love for their burgers was evident with pre orders flying in before the country reverted to Level Three.

“People have been ready and rearing, 12pm Tuesday was crazy, that night was absolutely mad.”

The Trafalgar St restaurant have been selling up to 200 burgers a day.

“They have been wanting to get that fix.”

With the added pressure in the kitchen, Chris says customers have been very understanding about delays.

It’s not just takeaway food locals have been itching to get their hands on.

Front of House at the Red Art Gallery Café, Angelie Cartagema, says there has been a steady rush of customers wanting a barista-made caffeine hit.


Front of House at the Red Art Gallery Café, Angelie Cartagema and manager Iona McLean. Photo: Jonty Dine.
Front of House at the Red Art Gallery Café, Angelie Cartagema and manager Iona McLean. Photo: Jonty Dine.

She says she is very happy to be back at work but anticipates some busy days ahead. Manager Iona McLean says it’s been great to see regulars back after five weeks out.

“There is still a lot of uncertainty, but we will get through it as a team and we have got a really good local customer base. We have seen already that they are supporting us.”

With restrictions still in place, they have had to change their operations in order to open.

“We have adapted the menu and doing everything through the window, we are also doing online orders.”


Head chef at the Taaj Indian Restaurant and Café in Tahuna Rama Kank. Photo: Jonty Dine.
Head chef at the Taaj Indian Restaurant and Café in Tahuna Rama Kank. Photo: Jonty Dine.

The Taaj Indian Restaurant and Cafe also reopened its doors last week.

Manager Arun Kumar says last Tuesday night was “crazy” with scores of customers craving curries. However, after the initial influx, business has slowed.

“We are a bit concerned about how the next few weeks will be, it’s a bit of a tough time.”

Open for takeaway only, Arun says they are trying to keep as few people working as possible and minimizing distance between them.

“It’s totally different, we just need to be safe and look after one another.”


Murat Akyon of the Akbabas Turkish Kebab House. Photo: Jonty Dine.
Murat Akyon of the Akbabas Turkish Kebab House. Photo: Jonty Dine.