Hank’s Kitchen avoids job losses during COVID-19 storm
IN A coronavirus world dominated by job loss and business closures, a Grafton bakery has managed to not only survive without losing any staff, but have kept 42 employees on the books without Federal Government support.
Iconic bakery Hank’s Kitchen has so far weathered the storm of COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions while keeping their staff of juniors, casuals, bakers and shop assistants in work.
“It was very important to us that we kept our staff, not just for the business but for our employees. They’ve got to rely on their wages for their mortgages and children,” Hank’s Kitchen owner Chrissy Hancock said.
“We don’t hire willy-nilly, we put in a lot of effort to choose the right people to fit our business and we appreciate all of our staff so it was really important that we did what we could to keep them in work.”
Ms Hancock said Hank’s Kitchen was lucky to be in an industry that found itself as busy as ever when other businesses were forced to close their doors.
“The takeaway industry became essential at a time when pubs and clubs weren’t open and people were looking to buy hot food without having to cook,” Ms Hancock said.
“To be honest it was quite hectic when the restrictions did come in earlier this year, we had to change the way we did things but we were still busy.
“At first we weren’t sure how we felt about being able to keep all our staff without JobKeeper but now we’re really proud. Some of our juniors lost hours for a while because we had to change our opening hours but they were all happy to stay on the books and once we could open back up more they picked up more hours so it all balanced out in the end.
“It was a bit of an eerie feeling for us, everything was more or less normal and we had other people in quarantine and working from home and we were just going about our business.”
Ms Hancock said the support of the Grafton community was also instrumental in Hank’s Kitchen surviving through the coronavirus lockdowns.
“The locals are so loyal and I think they want to support all of our local businesses, it could have been a very different outcome if we didn’t have such a loyal community,” she said.
“It has been horrible to see some businesses have to go through being shut down and some can’t come back from that, there would be nothing worse.”
One positive to come from the lockdown was an increase in training opportunities for the staff to learn new skills in food handling and hygiene.
“All of our shop assistants and relevant staff had the training already, but there were some that didn’t so we thought it was a good opportunity to make sure everyone had the training,” Ms Hancock said.
“That way everyone would understand the different protocols and procedures and were all up to speed on what needed to be done.”