Restaurant and food establishment owners who don’t belong to large fast food franchise chains are bracing for a relatively slow period despite being given clearance to offer curbside and delivery service to the public.
Although they were given the all-clear to resume business on Monday, many restaurants only opened their doors yesterday and many remained closed as they were still readying themselves to meet specified COVID-19 safety protocols.
“We had to take the Monday off to make sure and prepare properly, to make sure the building is sanitised, make sure workers are aware of the procedures that they have in place,” Azrudeen Juman, co-owner of Juman’s Roti Shop in Curepe, told Guardian Media.
“Everyone has to wear their mask. We put up our signs so our customers cannot be served without a mask. And we put our spacers on the floor so that customers could stand appropriately spaced.”
The roti shop only reopened yesterday but they also weighed the fact that traffic may not be that high at this time.
“It was actually tough to predict how today (yesterday) was going to be because we saw people cooking on Facebook and we don’t know how people’s appetite would have been today. We have a lot of Muslims fasting in this month of Ramadan as well, so we didn’t over-prepare today because we don’t like to have any wastage or anything like that at Jumans,” Juman said.
Other food operators expressed concerns about slow customer traffic given that many offices were not open yet.
The struggle of getting the necessary supplies to create their signature meals was another concern.
“To restock and those kinds of things, the availability of goods and the prices, as well as some vegetables and some ingredients would be harder to source. I import some of my goods as well, it was a little hard to get back goods and stock up,” said Sayeed Rasool, executive chef and general manager of 51 Ingredients.
Rasool said this difficulty may force a rethink of his methods of sourcing products and shift him to a local provider.
Rent and other overhead costs also affected the thinking of owners as they enter a new phase of doing business.
“We do not anticipate the same level of business with curbside and therefore that’s gonna have very big impact on my employees because we are not gonna be able to sustain, you know all of the wages and also to run this business because we have rents, we have all kinds of overheads. So it’s going to be a major challenge,” Dianne’s Tea Shop owner Dianne Hunt said.
Hunt said she would be testing the waters with reopening on Friday with a walkthrough service as she hoped to continue to sustain her brand despite the challenge.
Simmone Edwin, of Meraki Catering, also felt owners would face a fight to keep relevant in customers’ minds during the period.
“It’s just trying to now navigate in your customers’ minds what they would want. Now that other business places are opened, you kind of have to figure out what people would want to eat during the day now that options are available to them again. So again, it’s a matter of staying current and staying relevant in your customer’s minds,” Edwin said.