Mon. Aug 15th, 2022

Sydney has been locked inside for more than 100 days this year.

At that time, thousands of businesses across retail, hospitality, beauty services and beyond have also had their doors closed.

We spoke to three business owners in Sydney to find out how they are preparing to reopen and what their first month back in the business will look like.

Adam Walmsley at friends & family salon in Chippendale, Sydney.  reopening
Adam Walmsley at friends & family salon in Chippendale, Sydney. Picture taken before the pandemic before the mask mandate. (friends and family)

Adam Walmsley, friends and family salon in Chippendale

Adam and his wife Natalie drive friends and family Hairdresser. They have decades of experience and have worked in Australia and the UK.

The salon opened four years ago and has room for three customers at a time.

Located in Chippendale, in the inner city, it has been closed for more than four months.

How has the lockdown been for you?

“In the beginning, it was awful, mainly because of the uncertainty of how long it would last,” Walmsley told 9news.com.au.

“The financial consequences of being a small company and not having a buffer meant that what we worked on for four years is largely gone.

Adam said it took some time to get financial aid, and there “were a few months where no money came in”.

“It was pretty scary and a little demoralizing.”

“Over time, you come to an agreement with the money side of it and go ‘well that’s it’.”

The salon has room for three clients at a time, so they need to be careful about space and where people will wait for their appointments.
The salon has room for three clients at a time, so they need to be careful about space and where people will wait for their appointments. (friends and family)

How has the preparation for reopening been?

Walmsley said preparation for reopening has not been too physically intense, but it is likely calm before the storm.

“One big thing was just to make sure all our suppliers were paid and updated so we could order some more products.

“It’s pretty straightforward for us – we just had to clean up and make sure we have equipment for everyone.

“We have had to buy some temporary seating so people can sit out on the street and wait for us if they prefer.

“It’s mostly just been the logistics to fit hours into the staff, but also respect the space we have,” Walmsley said.

How will your first month open be?

The next three months will, in a word, be busy at friends and family.

“I don’t think we have a vacancy until mid-November,” Walmsley said.

“I’m going to be in five days a week and do 12 hour days, and Johnny our barber is in three or four days a week, my wife Nat in a few days a week.

“Everyone’s flat chat until November, so I fully expect it to continue until Christmas. We’re going to be pretty flat until the new year.”

Adam said it will be a delicate balance between the tension of reopening and getting money back in and adjusting after not working for several months.

“I fully expect it to be crazy, but I have a really nice customer base and I think everyone will fully respect the waxed, masks, social distance rules.

“It’s all the emotion – you want to go back to that life, but also, I’m used to not working and being with the girls (his wife and two daughters),” Walmsley said.

Nick's Seafood, which normally operates 365 days a year, is getting ready for reopening after being closed for the first time in its 20-year history.  Sydney reopens darling harbor
Nick’s Seafood, which normally operates 365 days a year, is getting ready for reopening after being closed for the first time in its 20-year history. (Nick’s Seafood)

Yvette Manettas, Manager at Nicks Group

The iconic Nick’s Seafood and Cyren restaurants are preparing to reopen after being closed for the first time in over 20 years.

Usually the seafood restaurants operate seven days a week, 365 days a year. The group also owns I’m Angus Steakhouse and Adria Bar Restaurant.

How has the lockdown been for you?

“Lockdown has been difficult for us, as has everyone. It’s awful to see your businesses empty,” Ms Manettas said.

“A really big adjustment to make, it’s also emotional … People have their hearts and souls in it.”

She said it was also difficult to see Darling Harbor – a normally busy part of Sydney – essentially empty.

It has been all hands on deck at the restaurants to get them ready for reopening.  Nick's seafood sydney reopens darling harbor
It has been all hands on deck at the restaurants to get them ready for reopening. This picture was taken before the pandemic (Nick’s Seafood)

How has the preparation for reopening been?

“When you shut down, you remove everything again – so you clear out all your perishable goods, you have to rinse out your beer lines, your restaurant gets packed up, and everything gets secured and packed to keep it all going,” Ms Manettas said.

Rebuilding the restaurant means that “the entire workforce” is back to help.

“We came together when we saw it was going to happen and said, ‘what do we want this to look like?’

Mrs Manettas said the team came up with new menu items, chefs are preparing sauces and food and the fishermen the restaurant uses are back in action.

“It’s been hard work, and it’s been a lot of cruelty and determination.”

How will your first month open be?

“We hope it gets really positive, our local and loyal clientele have all responded really positively,” Manettas said.

“We just have to open seven days, we have to eat lunch and dinner and do who we are.”

She said the group hopes the end of the lockdown will bring customers in and then Christmas will keep them coming.

“We’re ready for it, we want to do the right thing and we want everyone to be safe, but we also want them to be happy,” Mrs Manettas said.

“I think customers and staff are just as exciting.”

Anastasia Fenech opened her beauty salon in Five Dock, in Sydney's inner west just before the city's first lockdown last year.  Sydney reopens
Anastasia Fenech, owner of By Anastasia & Co, opened her beauty salon in Five Dock, in Sydney’s inner west just before the city’s first lockdown last year. (Delivered)

Anastasia Fenech, owner Of Anastacia & Co

Anastasia Fenech opened her beauty salon in Five Dock, in Sydney’s inner west just before the city’s first lockdown last year.

The salon offers a range of bespoke beauty treatments such as forehead treatments, specialized facials and peels, lashes and semi-permanent tattoos.

During the recent lockdown, she had to quickly move her business and is ready to see customers in person again.

How has the lockdown been for you?

“The first incarceration last year happened to me just a month after the official opening of my doors and salon to the public, so it was quite a shock,” Fenech said.

“I had to compromise and try to think of a way to make ends meet just to pay the rent for the three months I was closed, so I decided to sell skins and eyebrows to my customers, who were a hit.”

She said it was incredibly challenging to be forced to close for the second time in two years.

“I honestly did not think I would be able to push this lockdown through, but luckily I have just come by thanks to our amazing customers who have supported us throughout this lockdown,” Fenech said.

The salon offers a range of bespoke beauty treatments such as forehead treatments, specialized facials and peels, lashes and semi-permanent tattoos.  sydney reopening of anastasia & co
The salon offers a range of bespoke beauty treatments such as forehead treatments, specialized facials and peels, lashes and semi-permanent tattoos. (Delivered)

How has the preparation for reopening been?

Mrs Fenech said when the lock was originally announced in Sydney that it was only for two weeks so she moved her clients’ appointments around. But now there is a backlog of months.

“Now, almost four months later, the build-up is much more intense for the beauty industry as customers itch to get back to their beauty treatments.

“Unfortunately, with the current vaccinated and unvaccinated statuses, it has really had a big toll on us small businesses to open safely and have to comply with our current health advice, it has been quite a challenging journey to prepare for reopening,” she said.

How will your first month open be?

“Busy. October is fully booked out, November is almost booked and we have just opened the books for December so our customers can pre-book as close to Christmas tends to be fully booked very quickly,” Fenech said.

“But we are so excited and ready to get back to normal and see all our customers again.”

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