"We’re now seeing a lot of good indications and are on a positive trajectory, and I’m optimistic things will continue to improve once we get visitors back into our economy."
~Catherine Rose & Jeff Slessor – Owners, Poco Tapas & Wine
Opening a hospitality business just as the COVID-19 Omicron variant was beginning take hold, is certainly not for the faint-hearted. However, Poco Tapas and Wine owners Catherine Rose and Jeff Slessor decided they were up for the challenge.
“When we opened, we were still in the red traffic light setting and going into it was pretty scary as we’d just gone through two years of the pandemic, put a mortgage on the house and then boom we got Omicron which left us thinking holy crap what have we done!”
And it wasn’t just COVID that had Cath and Jeff on edge. They also had to deal with people apprehensive about eating out, staffing issues, unexpected costs, delays, and being the new kid on the block.
“Our opening date moved from December to February. We employed someone who resigned before they even started so we were a week out from Christmas trying to find a manager, which was really hard. Luckily we eventually found someone, although when we started trading no one knew we existed and people just didn’t want to go out.”
Fortunately, with the shift to the orange setting, they have seen a significant shift and are now reaping the benefits of their hard work and positive outlook.
“We’re now seeing a lot of good indications and are on a positive trajectory, and I’m optimistic things will continue to improve once we get visitors back into our economy. The main challenge we are facing now is staff; there’s just nobody out there and that’s a massive problem for the hospitality sector. The borders reopening should help to fill some staffing gaps. It’s early days for Poco, but overall I think we’re on a strong path.”
Cath also believes that the community spirit of Rotorua, coupled with the outdoor activities here, makes it the absolute best place to live, work and play.
“There are a lot of jobs here at the moment, which is great. There’s so much happening in terms of construction and development, the lakefront is amazing and if you’re into the outdoors I couldn’t think of a better place to be. I love it here.”
Photo credit: Tom Lee at Stuff