It may be too expensive to run a restaurant immediately after the lockdown
PICTURE: Spur
It may be too expensive to run a restaurant immediately after the lockdown PICTURE: Spur

Spur won't open after lockdown while other restaurants are not sure what to do

By Buhle Mbonambi Time of article published Apr 23, 2020

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Many are hoping that they will soon be able to gorge themselves on their favourite meals at their favourite restaurants. But will this be the case after the lockdown or will restaurants take a different approach?

Earlier this week, there were reports that popular fast food restaurants, Spur and Panarottis, will not be opening immediately after the lockdown. This is due to the social distancing legislation that permits gatherings of more than 50 people in one venue. 

In a letter to Spur restaurant landlord’s seen and reported by the Business Insider,  Spur group’s COO, Mark Farrelly revealed that during the social distancing phase of the country’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic, franchises lost a lot of money.

"The restricted trade was so injurious that the lockdown almost came as a relief as the cost of individual closures was preferable to the hideous trading losses our franchisees were incurring," Farrelly wrote.

Spur and Panarottis restaurants will remain closed as long as they face restrictions on the number of customers and also whether restaurants will be allowed to sell alcohol or not. 

Spur has close to 600 restaurants and employs 30 000 people. 

However not all restaurants have thought that far. Responding to questions from Independent Media, the Famous Brand group, which has Wimpy, Fego, Vovo Telo and the Europa brands, said: “Speculation at this stage would not be helpful for anyone. We will be guided by the Government's Risk adjusted approach to lifting the lockdown when it is published.” 

Which brings us this: should restaurants open, will they be re-opening and operating at capacity or will they be forced to change their operating model and going to be doing more with kerbside deliveries for their patrons? 

Many restaurants were considering this before the lockdown. Prior to the announcement, most restaurants were offering kerbside call-and-collect as well as general takeaway services to offset the loss of sit-in patrons.

Many restaurants are also asking their patrons to help them stay open by buying vouchers that they will use when the restaurants open.

Durban's The Chefs Table has urged their patrons to buy vouchers to dine at the restaurant. They have also partnered with their wine partner, P aul Cluver Wines in their Save & Support Initiative, which will mostly be in aid of the restaurant's staff. 

If patrons order wine from the estate and use #TheChefsTable as a reference code, they will receive a 20 percent discount and they will immediately donate 20 percent of the value of your purchase in support of The Chefs' Table to help our staff. Your order will be delivered as soon as the restrictions are lifted.

Popular beer brand, Stella Artois has also has launched a very similar initiative- an online platform on which you can buy a voucher to your favourite restaurant or bar.

Called #SaveYourSpot, the money will go to saving you space at a restaurant, while the beer brand will add an additional 50 percent of the value of each voucher.

The consumers who buy vouchers will be able to redeem them at their favourite local spot after the lockdown, and enjoy 150 percent of the value they paid for them. 

SAB's Vijay Govindsamy says South Africans need to rally together to support restaurants during this time.

“Most restaurants and bars have about 16 days worth of cashflow reserves to keep their business afloat. That’s a global average. For many South African outlets, that figure will be significantly less. If we hope to see our favourite spots survive this lockdown, we need to rally together and do what we can to support them now – when they need our help the most.”

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