GROOVE Train Queensland co-owner Julian Mero says the flood will likely cost his riverside restaurant $1.5 million in damages, as directors meet today to decide on the termination of staff.

Mero is thankful the brand has three other Queensland restaurants to keep the business afloat, but will likely let go of 20 staff as The Groove Train gears up for recovery.

“It’ll cost $1.5 million or in the vicinity somewhere of that, and that’s just the rebuild cost, the loss of stock and labour,” he told brisbanebusinessnews.com.au

“There’s a fine line in the restaurant industry between making money and not making money, and now we have to outlay that again.

“That restaurant’s our number one brand in Australia, and it’s not the loss of income, but the fact that you build the business, you put your heart and soul into it, and then you see that business ripped to shreds.”

On Tuesday the owners met with the landlord for an emergency meeting to discuss flood evacuation plans, moving valuables to the carpark of 123 Eagle Street, but they then realised the waters would reach higher than that.

“The great Brisbane people, we rung around a few of our suppliers and they lent us trucks and human labour and human hands, so we turned up and spent two hours getting as much as we possibly could,” says Mero.

“At that stage it was 10.30am on Tuesday and when we went into the restaurant we were waist-deep in the water already.

“You’re running on high emotion to get everything out of there as quickly as possible, make sure everybody’s safe at the same time, keep positive and strong for all your staff everyone else that’s looking up to you.

“Then you get a moment to think to yourself about the enormity of what’s just happened and emotion-wise it really gets to you, but we’ll rebuild it and you pick yourself up again.”

Mero says a lot of staff will be able to be absorbed by The Groove Train’s other restaurants, particularly in Robina, while he hopes that corporate demand will come back soon to help recovery.

“I’ve spoken to a lot of corporate friends I have that work in the city that have suggested their companies want to get to some normality by Monday, get back to work and back into a positive environment.

“There’s going to be a lot of money put back into the city so there’s going to be a lot of contractors getting work to rebuild the city, so you hope that’s going to have an effect on the retailers as well.”

Mero expects less than 50 per cent of the rebuild cost will be covered by insurance, but the company does hold loss of income insurance to help get people back to work for the cleanup.

“I think it’s an expensive renovation, and we were planning to renovate – you know what happens? You start to see the little silver linings in everything, the small details and you have a bit of a giggle to get yourself through.

“We actually had drawings to get the whole restaurant renovated. Now how blessed are we that we didn’t get it renovated and then lose it straight away.

“We’ve still got three other businesses that are trading very well so we are very lucky that we continue to employ people and we have to be strong to keep those restaurants working.”

Photograph: Inge Pirrie

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