An Auckland CBD restaurant will have to start again from scratch, losing 18 staff and facing more than a $1 million dollar recovery bill, after Monday’s widespread flooding destroyed the venue.
The Jefferson Bar, located on Fort Lane in the central city, had recently undergone major renovation and will likely need be demolished to start from scratch, after metre-high water soaked the premises.
It was 10 hours before owner Ofir Yudilevich could access the restaurant. The floodwaters damaged the restaurant’s electric transformer, which was needed to operate the pumps that would drain the water.
As the transformer fried, the water heated up to 50 degrees Celsius – preventing anybody from stepping into the live-current waters.
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There’s still water inside the restaurant, which hasn’t been completely drained yet. Contaminated water meant insurance hasn’t deemed the restaurant as a repair job – its only fate is demolition.
More than $200,000 in stock gone to waste, Yudilevich said he’s facing a complete loss.
“We’re looking at about six months before we can reopen, and that’s assuming insurance does its job. We’ll be completely rebuilding,” he said.
“We can’t get Gib [board] at the moment, so there’s even issues with getting simple building materials with the supply chain as it is.”
Yudilevich has put the cost of rebuilding at $1.3 million, with $800,000 alone going towards the machinery costs. Demolition, design, consents, electrical and replacing the damaged furniture will cost roughly half a million.
The restaurant owner of seven years talked about the “mental anguish” of facing challenge after challenge in the city. Covid-19 restrictions severely restricted revenue, but the past few weekends had provided encouraging earnings.
This, combined with the announcement from the Prime Minister of easing gathering restrictions, led Yudilevich to believe good times might finally be returning to his restaurant.
“Then this act-of-God flood got us in the end,” he said.
“Eighteen staff are affected, because what do they do in the meantime? So it’s then the mental anguish – I’ve been battered around with Covid-19 and the rules setting us back.
“We’re not blaming anyone, call it council or building code, the reality is there’s tonnes and tonnes of water going down to the basement, and the pumps don’t work. Nothing we can do about this one, it’s a hard knock.”
Neighbouring restaurant Cassia Indian is a built a metre higher than The Jefferson, which meant floodwaters didn’t rise as high. This, by no means meant owner Chand Sahrawat was let off easy.
Most of the restaurant’s food went to waste, the furniture is written off and the carpet is drenched.
Sahrawat was awake at 3am on Wednesday, stressing about how the venue would recover from yet another setback.
Cassia had only been trading for a week before the flood, after the team had been isolating for 10 days due to Covid-19.
The restaurant is running out of cashflow.
“I can’t sleep, it’s just stressful. One thing after the other, one week you get on top and then another thing knocks you down,” said Sahrawat.
“Others have started giving up, and I don’t blame them any more. Mentally you have to take a stand and do what’s best for your family.”