Weathering the Covid storm – 3 US restaurateurs share their experiences
2020 was a year that changed life as we knew it. A year of challenges and uncertainty that servery impacted the hospitality industry. As we step into a new year, three restaurateurs share their experiences, thus far, of weathering the Covid storm below.
Taïm – NYC
A falafel-focused vegetarian and kosher restaurant, who, like many others, did not foresee that the initial two-week lockdown in March would spiral into a life-changing ten-month pandemic. Despite this, they remained confident about their ability to outlast its devastating impacts. This could be because Taïm has always been approximately 90% off premise and have a very robust digital and delivery-oriented revenue split, which has enabled them to thrive in an era of restricted outdoor dining. Still, the restaurant chain have not been immune to the impact of the pandemic. Their locations in the Midtown & Financial District in NYC as well as pretty much all of their DC premises are experiencing the absence of trade from professionals who are now working from home.
“While no one enjoys seeing hard earned or invested capital that was targeted to support continued growth go to just sustaining the business, when we look back on this period 5 and 10 years from now, we are confident that we will have recovered that capital through continued expansion and growth of our core, existing business.” explains Taïm’s CEO, Phil Petrilli.
Sushi Noz – NYC
A highly acclaimed, experiential sushi restaurant in New York. Being a small 14 seat dining experience, they found the thought of closing for an undisclosed amount of time frightening, especially with New York’s high rents and fixed costs. On top of that were fears of their valued team members getting sick, particularly as they were in the epicentre of Covid. Thankfully after a month’s closure the team were able to regroup and introduce several successful initiatives such as their take-out and delivery programme. By April they saw their numbers begin to slowly rise, which brought optimism as they anticipated a strong push through the summer with hopes of indoor dining returning at some point in the fall. Understandably fears have returned with the latest lockdowns. Still, the brand is grateful for the innovation that they have achieved out of being forced into a position of thinking dynamically.
The Dinex Group
The restaurant group of renowned chef Daniel Boulud. When their doors first closed at the onset of the pandemic, they thought the closure would only last a few weeks. Now almost a year later, they admit that they are still adjusting every single day with the restrictions and most recently the closure of indoor dining (up to 25 percent capacity was previously allowed). Nonetheless the business is confident that with their incredible team they will overcome these challenging times. To help, they have adapted their business model by introducing new streams of revenue with a focus on bringing a taste of Daniel Boulud Kitchen to people’s homes through making food giftboxes and kits available to purchase online.