17 May 2020

Three Minutes Max: Krishna Botica on hospitality's necessary survival

From Sunday Morning, 8:30 am on 17 May 2020

Every time someone offered sympathy to restaurant owner Krishna Botica during lockdown, she'd keep one thing in mind: "A city without restaurants and bars is not a city".

Krishna Botica in one of her three Asian restautants, Saan in Ponsonby.

Krishna Botica in one of her three Asian restautants, Saan in Ponsonby. Photo: RNZ/Claire Eastham-Farrelly

Botica is the co-founder of Cafe Hanoi, Xuxu Dumpling Bar, and Saan, as well as being the head of the Auckland branch of the NZ Restaurant Association.

She told Jim Mora on Sunday Morning the survival of her business relied on her and partner Tony McGeorge to make decisions quickly, and as often as needed. 

The couple reduced their salaries by 75 percent, rented their house out to take the pressure off paying a mortgage, and rented a small apartment, which allowed them to focus on other decisions. 

They stayed in touch with staff throughout, particularly those who were vulnerable, but communication was often economical, lacked detail and was sometimes blunt.

"But we can pivot quickly and fill in the details later and that's what it seems to take to get ahead of this beast of a disease as well as keeping our staff employed."

They were constantly revising their business plan for different scenarios, while identifying what costs were luxuries. 

"People are constantly telling us that the bottom has fallen out of our industry," Botica said.

"They offer us solace and say it's got nothing to do with us. They say that they are thinking of us, and that's kindly meant, but it's defeatist."

While they were constantly thinking about the big decisions, they made a small decision - one that helped them get through the tough ones. 

"Every time  someone offered us sympathy, we would remind ourselves that there will always be restaurants and bars in our city. A city without restaurants and bars is not a city.

"We are an essential part of the city and if the city can survive, so can we."