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Piko Café to scale down services

By David Williams (he/him)

Staff and students at City Campus will no longer be able to visit Piko Café as AUT’s hospitality school has decided to close it to protect their students against exposure to Covid-19.

The associate head of the hospitality and tourism school, John Kelly, says he is saddened by the closure.

“I think we have lost a little of the soul of the school.”

Piko was a space where AUT staff and students, and the public could dine on the food the culinary students had created. The café also acted as a training restaurant for the students.

“After the first lockdown, we (the school) had to do some creative thinking as to how we were going to overcome not having a realistic work environment in terms of our two training restaurants,” says Kelly.

Piko was closed during the Level 3 lockdown last year. As a result, staff rewrote the curriculum to ensure students could still learn while minimising disruption. When Piko was able to open, AUT’s hospitality services ran the café instead with limited success as the City Campus remained quiet.

To reduce further disruption to hospitality students and to mitigate risk of Covid-19 from unvaccinated members of the public, the school has decided to limit the operations of the café.

Piko is now closed to the general public, but still acts as a place for students to learn café and general front of house skills. While Piko2Go will continue to run, staff and students must sign up to a mailing list which shares what food is on offer and when it is open.

Kelly is very disappointed by recent developments, saying “It seems a real shame that we don’t have that buzz again that we had pre-Covid.”

The school has stated plans are underway for simulated events under controlled environments where students will prepare food.

“There are dates which have been identified where the restaurant will be open for an event. Tickets will be sold, and these events will be promoted,” Kelly adds


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