COVID-19 NSW: Northern beaches businesses celebrating their first year

Mama Han's Kitchen's Jay Park, manager Cyma Lim, Young Jin Sin and sous chef Liz Song; OMG Decadent Donuts Northern Beaches Gus Mar and Jane Robinson; and Manly Business Chamber president Charlotte Rimmer. Picture: Geoff Jones, Simon Bennett
Mama Han's Kitchen's Jay Park, manager Cyma Lim, Young Jin Sin and sous chef Liz Song; OMG Decadent Donuts Northern Beaches Gus Mar and Jane Robinson; and Manly Business Chamber president Charlotte Rimmer. Picture: Geoff Jones, Simon Bennett

IT has been a tricky 12 months for local business owners, who showed resilience, grit and an innovative ability to pivot in the face of adversity.

"Oh my god what a nightmare. But I also have to say how surprised I am, there's been loads of support for locals and the community overall."

One year in business is a long time when you're stuck in the middle of a global pandemic and much of your trade is from tourists, said Manly Business Chamber president Charlotte Rimmer.

Despite tough times for many business owners during the past 12 months, she said many of them had learnt new skills: "I love the fact that people over a year ago said 'I'll never get on Instagram, we're a retail store', or 'we're a cafe, we'll never do take away.'"

Manly Business Chamber president Charlotte Rimmer. Picture: Simon Bennett

Manly Business Chamber president Charlotte Rimmer. Picture: Simon Bennett

In the course of our Support Local campaign, the Northern Beaches Review met plenty of struggling - and innovative - business owners and saw firsthand the support that the community gave them. Lockdowns hit hard, and locals rallied.

"The last 100 days have created a lot of kindness," Ms Rimmer said.

"There's been lots of giving back and lots of understanding. They knew that barista or they knew that local shop owner and they knew they were struggling."

Curl Curl woman Jane Robinson started her business one year ago, and says there were some hard times keeping it afloat during 17 weeks of lockdown.

OMG Decadent Donuts Northern Beaches Gus Mar and Jane Robinson.

OMG Decadent Donuts Northern Beaches Gus Mar and Jane Robinson.

With business partner, Narrabeen man Gus Mar, she bought the licence to sell OMG Decadent Donuts across the LGA and held their first market on August 31 last year.

After a few successful markets they leased out the old KFC store in Manly, on the corner of The Corso and East Esplanade, thinking the bumper summer trade would set them sailing.

"The day after we opened the northern beaches lockdown hit," Ms Robinson said.

The day after we opened the northern beaches lockdown hit.

OMG Decadent Donuts co-owner Jane Robinson

"We needed to abandon those plans and go into survival mode. We thought after we'd been through the first lockdown, we'd go from strength to strength with markets and permanent pop ups."

Then this lockdown hit. Like so many businesses, OMG Decadent Donuts Northern Beaches pivoted, and started offering home delivered donuts. It worked.

"We hired out-of-work people who worked as our drivers to deliver the donuts. The delievies have kept us alive," Ms Robinson said.

One year down the track sales are good, with low profits due to extra delivery costs. But the duo are keen to grow and have licences to expand into three other areas. "We want to be the gluten free, vegan version of Donut King," Ms Robinson said.

In Mona Vale's busy industrial area, Mama Han's Kitchen opened for business in February this year.

Mama Han's Kitchen's Jay Park, manager Cyma Lim, Young Jin Sin and sous chef Liz Song. Picture: Geoff Jones

Mama Han's Kitchen's Jay Park, manager Cyma Lim, Young Jin Sin and sous chef Liz Song. Picture: Geoff Jones

The busy Korean restaurant on Darley Street first found its feet with nearby workers, but as businesses closed for the lockdown, residential customers discovered Mama Han's.

"There's really strong support for us, and through their support we're becoming well known for our food," manager Cyma Lim said. "Residents are becoming our major customers now."

Ms Lim and owner Young Jin Sin expected it would take up to a year to become profitable.

"We're looking forward to a very good future," she said.

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