Today is a day of excitement as well as disappointment for restaurateurs, who have so looked forward to reopening their doors for a Sit-Down Service. The official reopening date is today, but sadly it appears that many restaurant doors will remain closed, restaurateurs citing the prohibition of serving alcohol with a meal, and this being the quietest time of the year for restaurants as the reasons why they will not reopen now, continuing with their Food and Alcohol Delivery and Collection Service.
Chefs and Restaurant owners are clearly not happy with this state of affairs, especially as the largest part of their profits come from on-consumption alcohol sales.
This weekend Chef Liam Tomlin of the Chefs Warehouse Group was very outspoken about the situation Restaurants find themselves in:
‘Dear Mr. President, ( Dlamini-Zuma)
I fail to understand who is going to supplement the income of our staff from 01 July.
From my understanding TERS, for whatever promises it is worth ends in a few days time.
You are expecting fully paid up licensed restaurants to trade as coffee shops.
It doesn’t make sense’.
Owner of The 41 in Camps Bay, Giles Blanc, is not opening his doors today. This is what he wrote yesterday, in explanation, finding huge support from diners and restaurant owners:
‘Why re-opening restaurants tomorrow Monday is NOT a good idea for the industry
I have seen a lot of restaurant business owners getting very excited about the re-opening of restaurants without the possibility to sell alcohol. I understand that we ALL want to be back into our shops and to start operating as before, but re-opening in these conditions may actually make our situation WORSE.
1. Restaurant business models are not sustainable without the sale of alcohol. 70 to 80% of the profit (NOT turnover, but PROFIT) in a restaurant comes from the bar. Running a restaurant without a bar is actually the best thing to lose money every single day you operate;
2. During winter months, and even with a drastic reduction in staff, most restaurants struggle to even break even, so how can restaurants break even with no alcohol?
3. Do not forget that new sanitary protocols are a new fixed cost. Just for 1 of my restaurants, this accounts for R500 a day; besides, do not forget all the hidden costs like staff transport…
4. The international market (wealthy spenders) is gone and the local market is broke. Youngsters go partying with alcohol in private parties, and elderly people, the ones who have the biggest purchase power, will be too scared to eat out because of the virus… Who are you going to work with?
5. Last but not least, re-opening massively the restaurants is not a good sign sent to the government. They may think that we are happy operating without alcohol. We need to show that restaurants CAN NOT SURVIVE without alcohol so we can keep pressure on the government. There are a lot at stake: employment, direct and indirect taxes…
In substance, what I am trying to say, is that re-opening your restaurant now would affect dramatically your cash flow and may bring you to bankruptcy earlier than expected. I recommend that you keep your hibernating mode, protect your cashflow to re-open, and keep pressure to government so we can trade with alcohol the soonest. We still do not know how long this crisis will be…
I contacted Ian Halfon of the Slick Restaurant Group, with restaurant brands such as Balducci and Belthazar, trading in the Waterfront, asking whether they are starting to trade today. His reply was an emphatic no, the Cape Town winter being very harsh, there are no tourists, and they are not allowed to sell alcohol. He added: ‘I think the losses will be catastrophic, also think that people are scared to drive around town, no people, let’s wait and see. Hopefully in summer things will be better and we will get holiday makers and some tourists, I pray’. The Group will continue with Food Delivery and Collection from its new Dark Kitchen on New Church Street.
The Kove Collection opens Lily’s in Mouille Point, and La Belle in Constantia, for Sit-Down Service from tomorrow. A phased reopening plan for the other restaurants in the Kove Collection has been prepared, SurfShack and La Belle in Camps Bay reopening for Sit-Down Service from Wednesday, Bobo’s in Mouille Point and Zenzero in Camps Bay open on Friday, Blanko in Constantia and Firefish in the Waterfront open on Monday 6 July, Paranga and Bilbao in Camps Bay opening on Tuesday 7 July, and The Bungalow on Thursday 9 July. Each of the Kove Collection restaurants will also offer a Food Collection Service once they have reopened. No Delivery service is available.
The Restaurant Association of South Africa has sent off an urgent letter to Minister of Trade and Industry Ebrahim Patel, addressing the issue of alcohol not being allowed to be served for on-site enjoyment. It reminds the Minister of the South African culture of having a drink with one’s meal, leading to many restaurants not opening for Sit-Down Service, affecting the economy of our country. The contradiction of allowing restaurants to sell alcohol on a Collection or Delivery basis, but not allowing the drinking of it with a meal in a restaurant, is highlighted to the Minister. A reason for the prohibition of serving alcohol is requested from the Minister. A demand is made of the Minister to allow on-site alcohol consumption at all Restaurants which have a valid liquor license within seven days.
Diners’ response to the alcohol restriction is one of shock and anger, many saying that they will order Food in and drink it with their alcohol at home. Others want to support their local and favorite restaurants, and will eat out to support them, saying ‘it’s the right thing to do. It’s the best we can do to ensure they get over this terrible time where our power to influence is diminished’, wrote a diner in response to Chef Liam’s post. Chef Pete Goffe-Wood added that Restaurants will loose more money by opening but they will also be ‘forced to loose a huge swath of our staff to make ends meet’. He estimates that only half of the previous 800000 employees in the restaurant industry will be reemployed. A meat supplier suggested that the liquor industry support restaurants in this battle, in adding its voice.
I will be listing Restaurants reopening for Sit-Down service with those already offering a Food and Alcohol Delivery and Collection Service in the Facebook Group which I created at the beginning of May. Click here to see the Restaurant list and posts: https://www.facebook.com/groups/261165661682371/?ref=share
We wish the Restaurants opening today the best of luck.
Chris von Ulmenstein, WhaleTales Blog: www.chrisvonulmenstein.com/blog Tel +27 082 55 11 323 Twitter:@Ulmenstein Facebook: Chris von Ulmenstein Instagram: @Chrissy_Ulmenstein