‘Half of all CBD coffee shops’ face closure

HALF of all coffee shops operating in Brisbane's CBD will go broke because of the coronavirus shutdown.

That's the dire warning from veteran coffee distributor Stelios Xystros, managing director of West End-based StelCoffee. Your diarist ran into Xystros Friday while he was supplying coffee to the almost deserted coffee shop in the Keri Craig Emporium in Brisbane Arcade. "Come on down and buy a coffee," Xystros encouraged passers by in order to drum up trade.

StelCoffee managing director Stelios Xystros. Photo: Glen Norris
StelCoffee managing director Stelios Xystros. Photo: Glen Norris

 

"When the Job Keeper allowance ends in October, you are going to see a lot of coffee shop closures in the city," says Xystros. He was scathing of city landlords who don't seem to be cutting any slack for struggling retailers.

"The best deal I have heard is three months rent free but you have to sign up for a five year lease," he says. "Five years! What struggling business can commit to five years. As they say in Greece, everyone has to have a haircut."

 

He said his business is down about 70 per cent in the CBD but his customers in the suburbs are doing surprisingly well. "My business in the suburban areas is up about 20 per cent because people are going out for takeaway coffee while working from home."

His customers in Margate, on the Redcliffe Peninsula, also have done well as that's as far Brisbane people have been allowed to travel for a day trip.

James Rochester from Keri Craig Emporium greets customers with hand sanitiser.
James Rochester from Keri Craig Emporium greets customers with hand sanitiser.

 

BERRY GOOD

The autumn sun is shining and that means the strawberries are ripening on the vine up Wamuran way. Piñata Farms boss Gavin Scurr is set to be a very busy man in the coming months with several hundred tonnes of strawberries picked every week during the peak season.

"It's been a good start to the picking season with excellent growing weather," says Scurr, whose family company is also harvesting pineapples at the moment.

Scurr says prices for strawberries have firmed substantially since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. "Prices fell drastically at the start of the lock down as people were panic-buying canned food and toilet paper and not so much fresh fruit," he says. "Now people have fallen into a pattern and are buying more fruit."

Piñata Farms boss Gavin Scurr.
Piñata Farms boss Gavin Scurr.

 

Scurr says his farms have enough workers at the moment despite restrictions on foreign travellers, who have traditionally provided much of labour for fruit picking.

The pandemic has provided other challenges for Piñata, most noticeably in providing adequate social distancing for farm workers. Scurr was looking at putting up shields in the packaging shed in order to provide added separation for workers.

 

CUT ABOVE

A SHOUT out to Adelaide St barber Joseph La Motta who continues to beaver away at his trade and go the extra mile during the coronavirus. Not only is La Motta wearing a mask while providing hair cuts but also gloves. The third-generation barber offers hand sanitiser to his customers on departure.

The post-pandemic world is certainly going to be a different one with a continuing focus on social distancing and hygiene. Signs in city office towers are appearing instructing that no more than two people are allowed in lifts. Property Council Queensland executive director Chris Mountford says building owners were mindful of following all social distancing rules set down by the Federal Government including restrictions on the number of people allow in lifts. Mountford says there will be challenges around issues of distancing as more people returned to work. "The most important thing is communication between tenants and owners," he says.

Sign outside lift at office building in Creek St. Photo: Glen Norris
Sign outside lift at office building in Creek St. Photo: Glen Norris

 

NIGHT OF NIGHTS

IN a sign of the times, the Queensland chapter of the Australian Institute of Architects has hosted a 'virtual' awards night for the first time in its 81-year history.

The ceremony was Friday night streamed to members via Instagram and YouTube and acknowledged projects located in Brisbane, Central Queensland, Darling Downs and West Moreton, Far North Queensland, Gold Coast and Northern Rivers, North Queensland and the Sunshine Coast.

 

Winners included the Queensland University of Technology Peter Coaldrake Education Precinct (Wilson Architects + Henning Larsen Architects, Architects in Association), the Bulmba-ja Centre of Contemporary Arts (TPG Architects) and Caloundra Christian College, Primary Learning Centre (McLellan Bush Architects).

 

TAXING TIMES

JOHN O'Brien, who founded the world's largest swimming pool and spa service company PoolWerx, has urged the government to seize the opportunities provided by the pandemic to reform taxation.

O'Brien, whose company has operations in Australia, New Zealand and the US, says the plan to reduce small business company tax from 27.5 per cent to 25 per cent should be brought forward to this financial year.

He also has called for the scrapping of payroll tax, which was introduced as a 'temporary state tax' during WWII. "This tax must go as it is anti-employment and limits employers' incentive to hire," O'Brien says.

Both the capital gains tax and fringe benefit tax needs to go. "So many small businesses will never re-open their doors again," he says. "We need to incentivise the new wave of small business owners."

Originally published as 'Half of all CBD coffee shops' face closure



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