'We'll be there': Customers eager to support bakery affected by Covid scare

David Beck, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Wed, 22 Sep 2021, 2:16PM
The Uppercrust Bakery in Mt Maunganui has been linked to a Covid case twice. (Image / Google)
The Uppercrust Bakery in Mt Maunganui has been linked to a Covid case twice. (Image / Google)

'We'll be there': Customers eager to support bakery affected by Covid scare

David Beck, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Wed, 22 Sep 2021, 2:16PM

Loyal customers are rallying behind a bakery forced to close for 14 days during last week's Covid-19 scare in Tauranga.

Mount Maunganui's Uppercrust Bakery was named as a location of interest on Thursday last week following news a truck driver tested positive after crossing Auckland's alert level 4 border and travelling to Hamilton, Cambridge, and Tauranga.

The truck driver visited the bakery twice, the first was on September 11, between 10.10am and 12.05pm. The second visit was on September 14 between 9.55am and 11.50am.

Uppercrust Bakery owner John-Paul van der Meys employs four staff, who were all there when the truck driver visited. This meant they all had to self-isolate for 14 days, leaving no one to deep clean and run the business until at least September 30.

"It was a kick in the teeth," van der Meys said today.

"I usually work six days a week, 51 weeks a year, so but we're a team of five million and at the moment we're taking one for the team.

"You can't stress over it, we just have to wait until we can get back in, have a clean, and get customers back in the door."

The good news is when the bakery posted on its Facebook page about the situation, comments flowed in from loyal customers who said they would be there as soon as it reopened.

Van der Meys said it was "pretty cool" to see the support, although not all were so kind.

"There are a lot of people affected and there are plenty of haters. There are people who were there two minutes after the window started and are ringing me up asking if he was there at those exact times.

"You hear those loud and clear but it will be nice to reopen, I'm looking forward to getting in there, seeing the customers, and back to the routine."

The big relief for all caught up in last week's Covid-19 scare in Tauranga was that no positive Covid-19 tests have come from it; van der Meys and all his staff have received negative test results.

"It's a huge relief," he said.

"We've talked to many people and being the epicentre of it, if it had gone viral the finger would've been pointed at us because that's where it started.

"All my team is clear, we've all had our five-day tests."

Van der Meys said the friendly service his bakery was known for was something he and his team strived for.

"Definitely, because food is food. You can get food everywhere but if a customer is going to come back every week, that's something you can't buy."

He said he and his family were all either vaccinated or booked to get vaccinated once they could leave the house but this recent experience further convinced him vaccinations were the best way to get back to normal.

"I'm all for it and as far as I can read from the Government side of things, once there are a certain percentage of vaccinations, we won't have lockdown again.

"From my experience, it's a financial hit to small businesses to have to close down. Small businesses are the ones that hurt and vaccinations are the key to success."

The comments come as NZME launched The 90% Project last week. A high vaccination rate is vital to make our population safe from serious disease, keep our hospitals running and gradually allow our economy and border to open up to the world again.

NZME titles, including the Bay of Plenty Times and the NZ Herald, have joined forces to work for at least 90 per cent full vaccination against Covid-19 in our eligible population by Christmas.

One of the supportive Facebook commenters was Pukehina's Bronwynne Sanders who told the Bay of Plenty Times she visits the bakery every weekend when she travels to Tauranga for the Farmers' Market.

"They are a lovely couple," she said.

"I will support them, I will travel all the way from Pukehina, I'll get my grandson to bring me in, to support that little bakery.

"The food is great too, I usually get the mince pie. Their savouries are just yummy and they are lovely, friendly people, they make you feel welcome."

Other comments on the Facebook post included:

"Gutted for you! Rest up while you can and enjoy the Family time. You are going to be sooo busy when you reopen. I'll be there for sure!"

"Kia kaha team, we love your food and we'll be back in to support you as soon as possible."

'I don't often go to bakeries but I will be sure to visit yours when you reopen. Kia kaha team!"

"The fact they visited twice makes me think you guys must make good food. So I'll be visiting once you're open."

In an effort to engage with customers while closed, the Uppercrust Bakery is running a competition on its Facebook page.

The competition invites people to comment with a pie flavour they would like to see, whether it's an old favourite or something "out of the box", and whichever gets the most likes will be made on opening day