The Duke of Malborough Hotel

Anton Haagh

"We are back doing takeaway menus, but also cleaning and touching the old girl up!"

Who you are and what type of business do you own?

The Duke of Marlborough Hotel - NZs first license holder, with a bustling restaurant and also a wedding venue with 38 rooms located in beautiful Russell.

What was the first thing you did when you realised the Covid-19 pandemic was about to affect your business?

Called a team meeting to see if everyone was comfortable working until the inevitable shutdown, the team wanted to close and it turned out that it was only 3 days earlier than the mandatory lockdown. We needed to refund a lot of customers, but we did get to spend a night with all the seasonal staff who wanted to return to their homes around the world, a memorable night of farewells, laughter and tears.

What are you doing now that you weren’t doing a month ago?

We are back doing takeaway menus, but also cleaning and touching the old girl up! And slowly getting revved up to start the slow build back to some sort of normalcy.

Picture of Duke Hotel

What challenges are you concerned about in the weeks and months ahead?

We don’t know how large the economic damage really will be, we don’t have anything concrete to go on and how much money will we lose? How many people can we keep on the books? How many of our customers will have lost their jobs? if everyone tries to hold the line and get back to normal, we will be okay. 

What opportunities do you see coming out of this situation?

An ability to rethink our business, can we simplify our lives? Restaurants have been struggling with profitability for a long time, how do we take the middle men out? do we have to offer every possible customer request – the costs are massive. Positive changes between owner and staff relationships, during these tough times we have seen the team be more flexible and us be empathetic towards them.

How can the community support your business?

Come for a meal or a night out and let your friends know if you had a great time!