The new Punnet Eatery


They say that everything happens for a reason, and I am looking forward to being on the other side of this storm and seeing the rainbow. It feels very testing at the moment. Renovations are always full on but trying to keep a business operating at the same is next-level tricky - BUT - walking into Punnet every day and seeing the 'new' Punnet evolving daily gives me a lot of joy and excitement for what is to come. We hadn't planned on giving Punnet a facelift this year; I do understand that we would have needed to do this in the next 3-5 years to keep us current; so when the fire happened, it felt like the perfect time to freshen up Punnet and start the new chapter. 


After the initial trauma of the fire we experienced almost seven weeks ago, we had to shift into rebuilding mode very quickly. It became apparent in the days following the fire that even though the fire didn't cause any structural damage, we would, unfortunately, have to replace everything in the main till and dining area due to smoke damage. The floors were stained, the ceilings black, and the bricks were smoke-damaged. It was a pretty depressing sight walking into Punnet every day for nine days while the commercial cleaners scrubbed smoke off every surface. But, everything needed to be replaced and replaced quickly. So I put on my big girl pants and got to work. 


It was a daunting process juggling the operational side while innovating and creating the new 'look' for Punnet. However, we still wanted to preserve the Punnet brand while giving it a freshen-up and modern, more refined look at the same time.


I believe in outsourcing jobs that you do not have the skillset for, so we needed a new look and feel for the eatery as soon as we had decided. I got on the phone with a friend of mine begged her to help us. Luckily for me, Marie from Royal Laboratory came to my rescue and started working on some concepts to give Punnet a make-over. We formulated a plan and worked closely with Richard, our builder and my dad to transform Punnet. 


The floors got grinded, the bricked got dry iced, and the ceiling and walls got replaced. We are currently working through our new retail shelves, the Glasshouse is getting gibbed this week and painted next week, and the little coffee station is getting tiled next week. The area around the coffee station is getting its little makeover in the next two weeks, with a booth seat coming in with smaller tables to accommodate those locals who want a nice quiet place to work during the week. We will have lots of power points and free wifi. Then there will be the final artwork layer up, and we have a few creative installs planned. We are hoping we might get it all complete in the next 3-4 weeks. All things are going to plan. 



Looking back on the past seven weeks of renovations, the thing that sticks out the most is how easy and enjoyable things are when you work with good people. Our staff, contractors and customers have all been so understanding and invested in helping us to create the best Punnet we possibly can. 


There has been so much disruption to both customers and staff over the past few months. We had weeks of operating out of the Piccolo Porch so we could keep our doors open. We had many cold mornings outside, and we even joked about getting a new staff uniform made from merino. We were fortunate to get our beautiful clear marquee put up in the courtyard for those cold mornings when we couldn't operate inside due to the floors being grinded or the ceilings being replaced. I loved overhearing a conversation from a cheeky local, who said to my staff while I was in earshot -


 "Gosh, it’s rough that Haley makes you work outside in the cold,” my staff member replied, "no, it was the fire’s fault, not Haleys.” 


It was good; we could all laugh about it. I continuously felt so thankful to both staff and customers for their understanding throughout the process. I never took it for granted that customers still came back to support us and my team still had a smile on their face each day.


I genuinely believe that my staff was a lot more resilient during this period due to the ups and downs and lessons that Covid taught us. I have been so impressed that my team has taken this in their stride and rolled with the punches. Of course, there have been tears all around, but never once did they give up or complain about it being too much. It’s pretty amazing to think we have covid to thank for this. 


I plan to have a little relaunch party of some description; I am looking forward to both thanking locals for their patience and showing off our new space. I will let you know the details when I have them. Thanks again to everyone for their understanding through this process; I am genuinely grateful, and I know that we aren't too far away from seeing the rainbow after the storm. 


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