CAFES and restaurants along Fremantle’s famous Cappuccino Strip have been hit hard by the impact of Coronavirus.
As official restrictions on large gatherings got tighter, overseas flights stopped bringing in tourists, local events got cancelled and Notre Dame university sent its students home to study online, trade along the strip was grim this week.
Fremantle Chamber of Commerce president Ivan Dzeba, who’s a director of Benny’s Bar and Cafe said businesses were already laying off staff and scaling back.
“It’s all very uncertain,” Mr Dzeba said.
“Everyone is still open, but they’re reducing hours and their staff numbers.”
Mr Dzeba said that in an effort to reassure customers, he’d already reduced the number of tables in Benny’s to comply with social distancing guidelines.
“We’ve stepped up our hygiene and cleaning; it was always there, but now once every hour we wash and disinfect the door handles, wipe down the tables, things like that,” Mr Dzeba told the Herald.
He says other businesses were implementing similar measures.
But Mr Dzeba fears if restaurants are forced into a complete lock-down, as was implemented in New York earlier this week, some businesses will not survive.
“It will depend on how long this takes,” he said.
“We had one plan on Monday, now we are on plan C.”
Speaking with his chamber hat on, Mr Dzeba said cafe owners feeling the pinch should talk to their landlords as soon as possible to discuss how they could help get past the hump.
He said delayed rent or payment plans were an option, but when told of Sydney eatery Ho Jiak owner Junda Khoo’s plan to ask his landlord to simply take a cut from his week-to-week takings, Mr Dzeba said any ideas should be put forward.
“No one has seen anything like this before,” he said.
“Whatever ideas you come up with, you should put it out there.”
by STEVE GRANT