Long-time eatery closes

Thai Family Restaurant has closed after years of service to the community. Times photo Wayne Martin

Popular eatery Thai Family Restaurant in Eastern Beach has shut down because of a lack of staff applying for job applications and the rate of minimum wage increasing.

“Applicants found it difficult because of positions requirements, shift hours and location as there was no public transport for those without a vehicle,” the previous owner of Eastern Beach Thai, Chutima Poomphuang, says.

Thai Family Restaurant, Pakuranga Thai and Marina Thai are owned by the same family.

“The three restaurants were slowly losing profit as soon as Covid hit,” Chutima says.

“If the sales weren’t enough, the owner would have to fork out their own pocket money to pay the staff.”

Chutima, the owner from 2013 to 2020, sold it to her brother because of Covid.

Another reason for its closure, Chutima says, is the rate of minimum wage. “It’s hard to keep staff on when minimum wage is so high,” she says.

“At the restaurant we had to open seven days a week, no breaks, to make the margin.”

They are not the only restaurant to suffer similar issues. Chutima says that the business next door has changed owner a few times in the past seven years.

New Zealand’s hospitality sector has been trying to recover from the effects of the pandemic, the Restaurant Association of New Zealand says, and businesses are under immense pressure.

“We all love our local restaurants and cafes but what would it be like if businesses had to close because they couldn’t find enough staff to keep the doors open?”

The problem, Restaurant Association says, is that “our migrant workers are filling a critical people gap. The reality is that without them hospitality is suffering significantly”.

The Restaurant Association has spoken out about the rise of minimum wage. They have said that this is one of their member’s biggest concerns.

Additionally other popular east Auckland restaurants have posted in support of the Restaurant Association’s campaign for a “hospitability reset”.

“We hope that when the borders open this will ease the pressure on the industry,” one restaurant said on social media.

The restaurant has told the Times that they’ve had trouble hiring consistent staff, and that Covid-19 “hit them hard”.

With the recent issue around hospitability, Chutima thinks that people will not be eager to dine out as much due to the Covid-19 situation and economical climate. “Hospitability is going to slowly decline,” she says.

Or, she says, the restaurant meal price will increase drastically to meet the government criteria and “still have a profit for owners”.