Counting holiday coffee cost

JENNA LYNCH
Last updated 05:00 06/02/2013

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Spare a thought for the folks in the service industry as you take a mid-week break this Waitangi Day.

Those responsible for making your holiday comfortable with a cold brew or chicken caesar salad will be working across Hamilton today, with most hospitality outlets staying open.

But Restaurant Association of New Zealand chief executive Marisa Bidois said for many in the hospitality business, opening their doors was not an easy decision.

"The Holidays Act requires significant additional payments to employees who work on a public holiday, which means restaurants and cafes face additional costs if they open on a statutory holiday, she said. "It's often a no-win situation.

"Many restaurants have put public holiday trading in the financial ‘too hard' basket. They would love to open, but the reality is that costs of operating on public holidays are significantly higher, and many that do open, run at a loss on those days."

Ms Bidois said surcharging was one way to combat the expense of public holidays but Hamilton's hospitality magnates say they are not for it.

Lawrenson Group director John Lawrenson said the group has never levied a holiday surcharge, because it "alienates" customers: "I think people see surcharges as a sign that you're being greedy. You do yourself more damage in the eyes of your customers . . . than you gain financially,"

Mr Lawrenson agreed that the Holidays Act made trading on these days hard but there was no way around it.

"Even if you open and you do a good day then at best you break even," he said. "It's hard but at the end of the day, you've just got to factor that into the cost of running your business."

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