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HomeNewsLocal traders need love after Mothers’ Day weekend blackout

Local traders need love after Mothers’ Day weekend blackout

Last Thursday, owners of establishments on East Esplanade were looking ahead to a bumper weekend, coinciding with big crowds expected in Manly on Mothers’ Day in particular.

But at 5am on Friday, those dreams were dashed when the traders discovered a complete power outage that was to affect three full days of trade over the weekend.

Reflecting similar power cuts in June 2022 and July 2015, the blackout cost venues including Maestro & Co., YesChicken and Cove Espresso, tens of thousands of dollars in weekend trade, as well as losses related to refrigerated stock, and damage to digital signage and more, due to the power surge when electricity was finally restored.

The finished work – power finally restored.

Manly property manager Meegan Clancy visited Ausgrid in person and just as with those historic incidents, was told that “An underground fault in a deteriorating power line was to blame”.

“Ausgrid found an initial fault in East Esplanade and rectified it”, said Meegan, “but then they discovered another fault outside the entrance to the old Aldi store on the Manly Wharf side of East Esplanade.”

Both Meegan and the venue operators made regular inquiries with Ausgrid over the weekend as to when power would be restored, but the deadline continued to blow out.

Ben Elfahim from Maestro & Co. was originally told things should be fixed “in a couple of hours”. Sadly it didn’t pan out that way.

“To their credit, Ausgrid worked throughout the wet weekend to get things back online,” said Meegan, “but in the end, the venues lost three full days of trade, including Mothers’ Day.”

Ben Elfahim.

Maestro & Co. at 50 East Esplanade had been fully booked out on Friday and Saturday nights and for Mothers’ Day lunches – a rare occurrence these days.

“Overall, business in Manly is still slow. It hasn’t yet fully recovered from the pandemic”, said Maestro & Co’s Ben Elfahim. “But we were looking great for the Mothers’ Day weekend – we had some customers who had booked for Sunday lunch a month in advance!

“When the power first went out on Friday, we thought it would be restored within a reasonable time frame. Even when it was still out on Saturday, we didn’t tell our Sunday customers, as we were told the problem would be fixed ‘within a couple of hours’. Sadly, when Sunday morning came and there was still no power, I had to start texting people at 6am and cancel all our bookings.

“It’s just so disappointing and it’s cost us a small fortune in trade, stock losses and wages that still need to be paid. I’m now in Limbo to be honest – still counting our losses.”

Husband and wife team, Daniel and Yu Cin from YesChicken at 46 East Esplanade, tell a similar story. “At first we weren’t too worried,” said Yu Cin, “thinking the power would be back on within at least 4-5 hours. We sent staff out to buy ice on Friday to keep the chickens safe.

“By Saturday we were in trouble. We couldn’t borrow freezer space as none of the local commercial kitchens were open. Our friends next door at Baskin-Robbins came to our rescue.”

“By Saturday we were in trouble. We couldn’t borrow freezer space as none of the local commercial kitchens were open. Our friends next door at Baskin-Robbins came to our rescue. While they weren’t able to store our chickens due to health regulations, they said we could ‘borrow their electricity’. So we rushed up to Bunnings and bought two very long cables, which we plugged into their power source and ran through to our store. This enabled us to keep two of our four ‘fridges working.

“However, we lost the use of one ‘fridge and our freezer, which meant having to throw out half our stock… obviously you have to be extra careful when it comes to chicken meat. We still had to pay staff and together with the loss of trade over one of Manly’s busiest weekends of the year, we estimate the blackout cost us over $10,000.

“While we think we can claim against Ausgrid’s insurance for the loss of stock, we’re not able to claim for loss of trade. It’s really hurt us.”

Joe Bruzzese from Cove Espresso on the Manly Wharf forecourt is in the same boat. “We were forced to shut down from Friday afternoon”, said Joey, “and most disappointingly, we were literally left in the dark by Ausgrid for the entire weekend. We still haven’t been told what happened and were never told when we could expect the power back on.

“Most of our staff are casuals and they were turning up for work, only for us to tell them they had to turn around and go back home. This is our livelihood and we bank on that weekend trade – especially on Mothers’ Day, which is one of the busiest days of the year in Manly.”

All these venues had to disappoint their customers and staff and naturally took a big hit to their bottom line. So this is a rallying call to the local community.

If you love the unique flavours of delectable Moroccan and Middle Eastern fare, or you’d like to indulge in a delicious dish of Korean fried chicken, or you just want to enjoy silky frothed milk poured over a shot of Espresso, topped with a touch of chocolate, please shop at these great local establishments in the coming weeks. Help them to regain just a small portion of the trade they lost.

Only people power is immune to a blackout.

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Manly Observer is an experiment in providing non-sensationalist hyperlocal news on Sydney’s Northern Beaches. We cover the big news across the LGA, but with a hyper focus on the Manly electorate encompassing Balgowlah, Seaforth, Freshwater, Brookvale and Curl Curl up to Dee Why. It is run by those living in the community for the benefit of an informed community. We care about an informed and connected community. That’s it. Simple. Thank you for your support in keeping quality local news alive!

Kim Smee, Editor

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