Closing down: Lismore cafe facing ruin due to roadworks
WHEN Guri Singh reopened Harvey's Eating Place after the March floods, he thought he had been through the worst threat to his beloved business.
After going through the hell of cleaning up and out, all the damaged equipment and stock and recovering from the emotional stress, Mr Singh remained optimistic and was determined to make a success of the business he purchased in 2016.
But now the 30-year old cafe owner is facing devastation, not from flood waters but from a drop in customers, which he said is due to the $1million Conway St road works outside his business.
Conway St has been closed since 15 January and is due to open by the end of this week if there's fine weather as rain delayed the construction over the last week.
Mr Singh said he reached out to the Northern Star because he felt desperate.
He said since Lismore Council's planned roadworks on Conway St commenced last month, his cafe has been in deep decline.
"Last month and this month we are 90 percent down on customers, we used to have up to 80 customers at lunchtime," he said.
"No-one sits outside because of all the dust and noise and I'm very worried I won't be able to stay in business."
When the Northern Star contacted Lismore Council about the dire situation facing Harvey's Eating Place, there was a swift response.
"All council staff have been encouraged to purchase catering from Harvey's Eating Place and council is currently organising for Mr Singh to cater for several major meetings taking place at council," a spokeswoman said.
Council's economic development manager, Tina Irish said they have made contact with Mr Singh on Monday afternoon.
"We have reached out to Mr Singh and can provide advice how to seek further business support should he wish to pursue those avenues," she said.
"We are doing our best as an organisation to throw our support behind local businesses until the road can reopen."
However, Mr Singh said while he appreciates their response, he thinks the damage is too deep.
"I am afraid the debt is too far gone," he said.
It's a bitter blow to the man who studied hospitality in Brisbane before moving to Lismore to work in a cafe.
After four years he decided to realise his dream of running his own business, but now he is facing ruin.
Now the man who once employed four people said he has not paid himself for three weeks.
And other businesses in the same street are also feeling the pinch.
Other businesses feel the pinch
Next door, Cobbler John's proprietor said his shoe repair and key cutting business is down a good 50 per cent.
However, Mr Savage said he could ride through the lack of business if it did not continue on too long.
"I'm lucky as I don't have any employees," he said.
"There's just me, I have to grin and bear it."
At Lismore Florist, Jenny Jones is about to celebrate 12 years since she bought the business,
But all Ms Jones really wants is for the roadworks finish up before Valentine's Day.
"Business is down about 60 per cent due to the roadworks and this is the fourth week of disruption," she said.
"Last year it was the floods, a couple of months ago we had council doing pipes outside and now this, so I hope the weather fines up so council can finish laying the bitumen."
Ms Jones is hoping February 14 will see her flower shop full of romantic customers.
"This is the single biggest day of the year for us," she said.
"I'm really hoping the weather stays fine so the road works will be completed soon."
A council spokeswoman said they have been corresponding with local business owners since September 2017 about pre-construction and roadwork schedules.
She said consultation on the project started in May 2017 and January was chosen as it is considered the quietest time and the least disruptive to undertake CBD works.
"We are aware these roadworks are affecting all local businesses in the area, and the rain in the last week has not helped," she said.
"We only need a few days of fine weather and that section of Conway Street will be reopened to traffic."