Why Gold Coast cafe culture has changed for good

 

IT'S Gold Coast hospitality, but not as we know it with venue staff taking customer names and numbers for coronavirus contact tracing and run off their feet to not breach 10-patron limits.

Business owners have had a mixed reaction to their first weekend back on deck since the coronavirus crisis resulted in unprecedented restrictions, with some adapting and others facing new frustrations.

Subject to strict social distancing regulations all cafes and restaurants were required to keep a record of every customer that visited to help contact tracing in case of virus outbreaks later.

At brunch hot spot Blackboard in Varsity Lakes a QR code was placed on each table, so customers should automatically scan and send their details via email.

Blackboard Varsity general manager Wayne Keating with a QR Code system to electronically store your details when you wish to dine in for breakfast and coffee. Picture: Glenn Hampson
Blackboard Varsity general manager Wayne Keating with a QR Code system to electronically store your details when you wish to dine in for breakfast and coffee. Picture: Glenn Hampson

"We went completely touch free, we also had a QR code for our menu, so there was nothing to hand out, pens, paper nothing," owner Marc Kinvig told the Bulletin.

"With the QR code scan we can tell where they sat, with who and for how long - it is much easier to control the details."

The eatery was completely booked out of its one-hour sittings all weekend, with locals taking advantage of the $30-a-head deal for breakfast, coffee and a juice: "Ten people doesn't sound like a lot but in seven hours that is well worth doing.

"It's easy if you just roll with it - 10 is better than zero."

But owner of Miami's Piccolo espresso Robbie McEwen said he believed the easing under stage one restrictions had made business harder.

"It is a hard to control and keep a handle on only 10 people in your cafe with appropriate social distancing," Mr McEwan said.

Patrons at The Beach Cafe and Elston Restaurant & Bar in Surfers Paradise. Picture: Jerad Williams
Patrons at The Beach Cafe and Elston Restaurant & Bar in Surfers Paradise. Picture: Jerad Williams

"It has become a job trying to control crowds and making sure I just have 10 sitting around the cafe.

"It's quite stressful - I don't want to get in trouble.

"It's nice to see the light at the end of the tunnel but we are struggling.

"I have found a lot of people are not wanting to sit down either. They are so used to takeaway and going to sit on the beach.

"It's a hard time but think things are going to improve from here."

At Frigg Cafe in Labrador it was a matter of ditching the condiments.

Owner Toula Scott said the restaurant followed strict guidelines set out by the State Government to serve dine-in customers with social distancing signs on floors, a separate dine-in entrance and takeaway entrance, adding: "We took away all the condiments - no salt and pepper."

People have lunch at Burleigh Heads. Picture: NIGEL HALLETT
People have lunch at Burleigh Heads. Picture: NIGEL HALLETT

Ms Scott said people had travelled from as far away as Ipswich and Logan to dine at Frigg, and the only authorities that graced the premises were a couple of thirsty police.

A police spokesperson said it was clear businesses worked to abide by the rules, with no fines being issued over the weekend.

Some warnings had however been issued to crowds gathering on beaches and those drinking on Burleigh Hill but no one was ticketed.

New virus cases in the city also remained low with a single new case announced Saturday.

The infected woman was a 71-year-old local who had been a passenger on the Coral Princess cruise ship.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the state had reached the "magic two-week mark" since restrictions were relaxed to allow small gatherings in homes and for travel.

"Queensland has done a mighty job … and I hope with a further easing of restrictions this weekend people are out and about enjoying a bit more freedom but also continuing to practice their social distancing."

Patrons at The Beach Cafe and Elston Restaurant & Bar in Surfers Paradise. Picture: Jerad Williams
Patrons at The Beach Cafe and Elston Restaurant & Bar in Surfers Paradise. Picture: Jerad Williams

There are now 12 active cases of coronavirus in Queensland and two on the Gold Coast. Plenty of venues across the Gold Coast were running strict booking periods with many booking out.

BMD Northcliffe surf club functions and events manager Leah McCoy said: "We've had hundreds of booking inquiries, which has been good. Obviously everyone wants the 7pm and 12.30pm slots.

"We are fully booked for all the sessions we have. Midweek is looking a bit quieter but I am expecting more emails.

"Everyone is happy following the legislation and it has gone great," she said.

Benowa Waters couple Wendy and Alistair Beattie were one of the lucky few to snap up a reservation at Edgewater Dining in Isle of Capri.

They dined on a three-course set menu with a view of the Nerang River and Surfers Paradise skyline

"It was good timing for us because it was our anniversary. My wife, she did a really great job of getting somewhere for us to go," Mr Beattie said.

"It was a little awkward when we first got here and you had to sign in and there weren't a lot of people here, but after a couple of glasses of wine you loosen up.

Originally published as Why Gold Coast cafe culture has changed for good


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