Owner of Ban Thai Bar and Restaurant in Goondoon St, Gladstone, Mark Dunnett.
Owner of Ban Thai Bar and Restaurant in Goondoon St, Gladstone, Mark Dunnett.

‘Finally we can relax’: Dining out back on the menu

The hospitality game is far from easy under changing coronavirus restrictions, but for restaurant owner Mark Dunnett, the decision to reopen "wasn't too much of a struggle".

He runs Ban Thai Bar And Restaurant on Goondoon St with his wife Ayr, and the pair have been trading through the pandemic; first offering takeaway and now reopening under the 10 diners or less rule.

"We had to change our strategies because predominantly we aim ourselves at fine dining," he said.

Some of his staff are eligible for JobKeeper assistance, but not all.

Keeping the doors open means wages for workers and now, another option for Gladstone residents to dine out.

"Everyone you talk to now is starting to go a little bit stir crazy," Mark said.

"Over the last week, seeing people sitting in here and the way they talk to you it's like; 'finally we can relax and have a glass of wine and a nice meal and chill out'."

The restaurant has been well-supported since reopening, but Mark said it was 'heartbreaking', to have to turn customers away because of restricted capacity.

He had a booking for 10 cancel their reservation and was thankful to have time to put the word out via Facebook for other diners to take their place.

'These things happen," he said.

"Like everyone else that's having a crack, especially in Gladstone at the moment, if I could ask that if anyone is going to cancel, please ring back, don't just not turn up."

As well as the support of the community, Mark is thankful for the work of bookkeepers and accountants helping businesses negotiate the pandemic.

"He went out of his way to help me out, to make sure that I would have enough wages to cover when the announcement was made so my staff got paid right from that day onwards," he said of his bank manager at Westpac.

And he's looking forward to welcoming more diners as restrictions continue to ease in coming weeks.

"We are fighters."