Christchurch businesses find new ways to operate

10:22 am on 21 February 2012

With downtown Christchurch still closed off to the public after last February's earthquake, thousands of businesses have been forced to relocate and rethink the way they operate.

Many have set up in temporary premises while they wait for rebuilding to get underway.

One of those keen to get back in to the city is restaurant-owner Pedro Carazo.

His commitment to the city remains strong despite the death of his son in the collapse of the CTV building, the loss of his family home and the destruction of Spanish restaurant he'd run on Worcester Street for more than 30 years.

Mr Carazo says he wants to be part of the new city and be in the central city again.

"Christchurch (has given) me a lot," he says. "I'm not a young man now but I want to spend the rest of my life here."

Plans for a new restaurant have been drawn up, but Mr Carazo knows it will be at least a year before it is up and running.

Like dozens of other business owners, he's setting up shop temporarily from a shipping container along Papanui Road.

Jackie Garcia-Knight and her husband, Javiar Garcia, have also had to rethink the way they do business.

The couple's restaurant in the Botanic Gardens has been shut since the quake, prompting them to find other ways to earn money.

They sell food at farmers' markets and Ms Garcia-Knight says they are also planning a return to the Botanic Gardens - if only to sell coffee.

Christchurch City Council, which owns the couple's building, just last week approved the renovation work required to make it safe to reopen.

The Chamber of Commerce has itself shifted from the city - operating for most of the year from chief executive Peter Townsend's home.

It has recently relocated, again temporarily, to the Westpac Hub - a giant dome in the suburb of Addington.

Mr Townsend says the hub has been set up to accommodate businessess affected by the quakes, offering office space, meeting rooms and conference facilities for free.

He says half the businesses that have moved from the inner-city red zone plan to return.

The rebuild is beginning to pick up pace, with 223 quake-related consents processed in the seven months to 31 January.