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To the rescue: Helpers at Lone Star Queenstown over the school holidays included, from left, Queenstowners Shay Muddle, Pete Dodds and Jessica Patterson

By TRACEY ROXBURGH

LONG-time Queenstown hospo operator Dave Gardiner says he’s grateful beyond words to a crew of mates and supporters who jumped in to help him out over the school holidays.

But the Lone Star Queenstown owner’s mortified he’s in a position he had to ask.

After Gardiner put an SOS out on his own Facebook page late last month, asking for some help in the busy Brecon Street restaurant, he was inundated with offers.

He estimates about 20 people chipped in over the two weeks, including netballers the Loney sponsors, and a veritable who’s who of Queenstown.

Even Gardiner’s 84-year-old dad was trying to chip in.

Gardiner says it was ‘‘humbling’’ to see that level of support, and they created an ‘‘amazing atmosphere’’.

‘‘It was actually quite electric — they uplifted the staff I have and created a real cool vibe.’’

He pays particular credit to his staff, who’ve adapted to everything thrown at them over the past couple of years, and his landlords who have been ‘‘so supportive’’, but says looking ahead to winter, ‘‘I don’t know how we’re going to cope’’.

‘‘I used to have an average of … 32 staff, now I’ve got about six.

“You can’t have a reserve, or a back-up, or a ‘B’ team … the immigration department in the current government is putting so many barriers in place for staffing up at a time when we’re really needing it.

“The government should be putting things in place, right now, to sort us out.

“But not only are they not putting things in place, they’re actually making it a lot harder.”

While he’s so thankful for his school holiday helpers, ‘‘it’s embarrassing’’ to have to ask for help.

‘‘As a business owner, you pride yourself on being independent and being able to cope.

‘‘To have to put your hand up and ask for help like that, it’s not really a sustainable way of running a business.

‘‘As cool as it was to see, and as much as I en joyed it, it’s not right, is it?’’

tracey.roxburgh@scene.co.nz