The fallout of COVID-10 (Coronavirus) has almost overnight changed the reality of the restaurant industry – forcing upon it one of the biggest crises in living memory.
In these challenging times, we at Futura Restaurant Growth Partners hope to bring restaurant owners whatever inspiration, advice and innovative thinking that we can, to help them see themselves through to the other side of the pandemic.
In this brief interview, we reached out to renowned restaurateur Rowena Romulo of Romulo Restaurant & Café, famed for putting Filipino fine dining firmly on the London culinary map. She shares with us and fellow restauranteurs some of the measures she has put in place to safeguard the future of her restaurant
1. What measures have you put in place to keep your business running?
Since the Pandemic has affected our business, we had to closely monitor the situation and react on a daily basis, based on our new reality. From initially taking measures to ensure the safety of our “eat in” diners, we have ultimately had to convert our operations into a ‘no contact’ take-away and delivery service and are creatively brainstorming ideas of how we can evolve our delivery offering to cater to our diners’ “stay at home” circumstances.. This will also allow us to retain our loyal and hard-working staff whom we value as much as our business.
We are working hard at reducing our costs, exposure and risks by maximising our cash flow, preserving capital and making sure we claim any subsidies, grants, relief and benefits being offered by the government, landlords and suppliers.
We have also reduced our operating hours to reduce variable costs like energy and shortened our takeaway menu to reduce costs associated with food inventory or dishes that rely on items with a short shelf life.
2. How confident are you of weathering the storm??
This is a tough question as it depends on how long this pandemic will last. However, with the government package of targeted measures to support businesses through this period of disruption, support from our landlord, suppliers and our customers, I am optimistic that we will emerge stronger from the crisis when it is over.
3. How useful will the Government’s pledges be for your business?
The government pledges are definitely very useful as 1) it will help allow us to retain our hardworking and loyal staff 2) it will provide us financial relief such as the 12 month holiday on business rates and 3) provide cash flow through the grants, funding schemes available to keep the lights on for as long as possible.
4. What would be your advice to other restaurant owners in these trying times?
Protect your Brand: They say that reputation is defined during the tough times. So think about how you are communicating with your customers and doing things that add value to them even if they can’t come to you right now.
Plan for the Future: Use this forced down period to get things done that busy times don’t always allow for i.e. develop new recipes or plan your restaurant’s marketing strategies for when you are back to full steam and ready to open your doors, so that you maximise new business opportunities.