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Front of house . . . Shortblack owner Caidee Pennycook is now serving customers from the Thames St cafe's doorway. PHOTO: GUS PATTERSON

It could not have come soon enough for caffeine-fixated Waitaki residents.

As the country eased to Alert Level 3, several Oamaru cafes and restaurants re-opened for business on Tuesday.

Social-distancing measures were in place, and most eateries were offering home-delivery options and contactless payments.

Despite the obvious changes required to operate in Level 3 and the associated challenges, business owners were mostly positive about the future.

For Cucina and Tees St Cafe co-owner Yanina Tacchini, the lockdown was an opportunity to set up new online ordering systems.

Yanina and Pablo Tacchini

A revamped takeaway menu for fine-dining Cucina offered some affordable options, which could introduce the restaurant to more people in Oamaru, Mrs Tacchini said.

“We are positive, we need to embrace it,” she said.

“Of course, we worry a lot, but it’s a whole new time for us to discover more about our customers.”

Mrs Tacchini and husband Pablo are no strangers to a challenge, moving to Oamaru from Argentina, and are determined to make it work.

“We will stay here and do whatever it takes.. this is home,” she said.

Shortblack owner Caidee Pennycook said the timing of the lockdown was fortunate, as the winter months were generally quieter anyway.

Hygiene was already an important part of the food industry, so apart from the way customers ordered, the kitchen was continuing to operate more or less as usual, she said.

“We have all of those measures in place anyway, and we are now offering contactless payments and deliveries.”

Shortblack almost had to go without coffee on the first day of Level 3, after a delivery did not show up in time.

However, another Oamaru cafe, The Galley, came to the rescue, co-owners Debbie Orr and Kara Crossan sharing some of their coffee beans with Shortblack, Miss Pennycook said.

The Galley also opened for takeaways on Tuesday and Mrs Crossan said it was important businesses supported one another at this time.

The Galley co-owners Debbie Orr and Kara Crossan.

“I’m hoping that all the cafes and restaurants keep going,” she said.

“It’s all new for everyone.

“We are just taking the time to step back and think about what is important.”

At Harbour Street Collective Cafe, staff were excited to get back to work on Tuesday, owner Anna King said.

Japanese restaurant Midori was now also operating from the Collective’s Harbour St premises, adding a wide variety of food options to the menu.

Harbour Street Collective Cafe owner Anna King.

“In this environment, we are all going to have to adapt,” Mrs King said.

“We just need to get some cashflow going.

“We are looking at doing customer-focused things like free deliveries – we just did one to Glenavy.”