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Covid-19: restaurants get creative to keep tourism afloat in these tough times

Published Mar 21, 2020


With social distancing encouraged to help reduce the Covid-19 curve, most restaurateurs are doing their bit to help, too. Some are shutting down and others are getting creative with how they provide their regular service.

Earlier this week, Chef Luke Dale Roberts announced the closure of Cape Town’s The Test Kitchen, The Pot Luck Club, The Shortmarket Club and Salsify at The Roadhouse. 

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Dale Roberts along with his senior management team made the decision to self-isolate all their restaurants and their respective employers for fourteen days. 

He said: “With the country’s President announcing a National State of Disaster due to the Covid-19 virus, we feel that you should know that the well-being of our guests and employees remain our top priority. A great percentage of our clientele are travellers from around the globe and as such, it is best that we temporarily close shop and do our part in stemming the current health crisis.”

They plan to re-open for business on Monday, March 30. However, that call will be made at another meeting scheduled for Friday, March 27. 

“While we haven’t had any members of staff travelling to and from affected areas and have naturally cancelled all travels to and from these areas, our team is advised to refrain from any travel at this time”, added Luke further.

In Joburg, Chef James Diack plans on keeping his three restaurants - Coobs, Parkhurst;

Il Contadino, Parktown North; La Stalla, Melville - open. 

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However, to allay the concerns of his diners, he is giving them the option of Curbside Call-and-Collect, where customers can phone their orders in, and someone from the team will meet them curbside with their order.

Meanwhile, Marble and Saint have also closed its doors. 

“We have taken the decision to temporarily close the Marble Group of restaurants, Marble and Saint, in response to the global Coronavirus pandemic. We feel it is our social responsibility to protect the health and safety of our team, the customers that visit our restaurants, and the community around us. By taking this drastic action we believe we can positively contribute to slowing the spread of the pandemic, and by doing so, open our doors again soon. We are staying abreast of developments and will share updates with you as soon as we are able to. Thank you to everyone for your understanding,” responded David Higgs & Gary Kyriacou, co-owners and partners of the group.

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Popular Soweto spot, Bafokeng Corner has decided to stay open. 

In the press statement issued, they said: “In an effort to contain the spill-over effects of current tough economic  conditions, which will further deteriorate as a result of the Covid-19 impact, we are implementing a crowd control strategy and strategic operational model that will enable us to protect jobs without compromising the health and safety of customers as per the NCID and WHO.

“The traffic control strategy will ensure that no more than 100 people are allowed in our premises at any given them. As per our interim strategic operational model, Bafokeng Corner will operate as normal, however, we will adopt a balanced takeaway and sit-in model upon reaching the 100 people threshold. Additional hygiene and sanitary measures will be in place across our entire premises.”

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Renowned Somerset West wine estate, Vergelegen.

Renowned  Somerset West wine estate Vergelegen is closed until April 2. 

“Our main concern is the health and safety of our visitors, our staff, and our community, so we are playing our part in helping to minimise the spread of this virus by limiting contact amongst groups of people. We are also escalating the already comprehensive cleaning and sanitising procedures in our visitor and production facilities,” said CEO Wayne Coetzer.

“We look forward to welcoming visitors back to this glorious estate as soon as circumstances permit. We are using this time to invest in additional staff training, tweaking our restaurant menus, and generally ensuring that our well-known hospitality facilities and services are world-class.”

“As this situation develops, we will reach out on our website with any new communications. We will continue to support our employees and our community during this difficult time and are heartened by the spirit of collaboration internally and externally in combating this pandemic,” said Coetzer.

La Motte Wine Estate is closed until Monday, March 23, after a guest tested positive for Covid-19. 

“The safety of our guests and staff is our priority”, said La Motte CEO, Hein Koegelenberg. “We are careful to not instigate panic, but for now and as far as it is in our hands, we would rather close our tourism offering and implement the necessary protocol. I am optimistic that guests to the estate will soon again be able to enjoy the relaxing and entertaining experience they’ve come to know when visiting La Motte.”

The offerings temporarily closed include the La Motte Tasting Room, Museum, Farm Shop, Hiking trail and Pierneef à La Motte Restaurant. The hospitality team will be in touch to reschedule existing bookings.

Most restaurants at casinos across the country appear to be open for business. However, they are ensuring sanitary measures are in place for the safety of staff as well as diners. 

Most restaurants are updating the public through various social media platforms. You should also call ahead before making any bookings. 

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