Slow start to business for Newton

Melania Sekoula Newton has been running Mels Kitchen in Vunisea, Kadavu, for almost four years now. Picture: ABISHEK CHAND

Melania Newton runs a small eatery Mels Kitchen in Vunisea, Kadavu, a business she took over from her mother-in-law.

The mother of three moved to the island six years ago with her husband who is a farmer on the island.

“I have been here for six years now, I have three kids – two boys and a girl and my husband is a farmer,” Mrs Newton said.

“I have been running this business for four years now as I took over from my mother-in-law.”

However, since COVID-19 had struck, business has been slow for Mrs Newton.

“At the moment business is slow compared to the last couple of years, just when I started.

“Before COVID like this time of the day (Saturday) the market in Vunisea would be very busy especially on boat days but compared to now it’s just like any other normal day and not busy at all.”

Mrs Newton pays $10 a day as rent, $60 a week if she has to work on Saturday which is a must as that is the busiest day for her.

She said they paid the rent to the Suva City Council however since COVID had struck and their business declining rent dues had not stopped nor decreased.

With rent, Mrs Newton also had to fork out money for electricity, which comes to around $20 to $30 a month.

“On a normal day, it can probably get 20 customers but before COVID-19 I used to get around 30 to 40 customers and in a day make $200 at the most.”

Ms Newton said since she started running the business they never had any renovations or improvement to their market as even the vendors would have to buy and paint their own stalls.

“Firstly I would like the market to be renovated and my kitchen to be extended at least so that I can have my freezer inside and have some more space.”

Mrs Newton said she loved to cook and running this business was her way of earning cash for the family.

Mels Kitchen sells cooked food, raw fish as well as hot and cold beverages among other eateries and is open from 7am to 4pm.

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