Philippines Report

New Normal: Amid surge in take-out, deliveries, restaurants struggling to stay afloat

New Normal

RESTAURANT owners in Cebu are scrambling to cope with the limited dine-in service on the back of the “new normal” business environment.

Brian Noel, vice president for restaurants of the Hotel, Resort and Restaurant Association of Cebu (HRRAC), told SunStar Cebu that restaurants are struggling for ways to keep their businesses going even if they are allowed to render take-out and delivery orders.

“There will be less foot traffic and less customers. Additional costs are there too, because of the (investments on) personal protective equipment and sanitation protocol,” said Noel, echoing the outlook and concerns of Cebu’s restaurant players.

Under the general community quarantine (GCQ) protocol of Cebu Province, dine-in restaurants, fast-food chains and carenderias shall be allowed to operate but limited to 50 percent of the establishment’s total customer carrying capacity.

The Province of Cebu lifted its enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) status on May 20 and shifted to GCQ. The cities of Mandaue and Cebu, however, are still until under ECQ until May 31.

With the new normal, Noel said there would be less kitchen staff due to the restrictions on mobility. Restaurants will also need fewer waiters due to limited customers.

Noel is the general manager of Casa Verde which has nine branches nationwide, six of which are in Cebu.

During the Project Balik Buhay virtual press briefing on Tuesday, May 19, 2020, restaurateur Bunny Pages said most restaurants have shifted to take-out and online deliveries with the absence of dine-in service. But he also noted a rise in competition as most households turned their kitchens into food delivery business.

Pages, who owns some of Cebu’s most popular restaurants like Lantaw and Mooon Café, said restaurant players have yet to know how the industry will perform in the next two years as “the margins have been tight for many years now.”

“If our volume will be cut further by 50 percent, but we don’t even project 50 percent, we just project 30 percent, I wonder how many restaurants will survive,” he said.

Han Lee, general manager of Topokki Man, a Korean restaurant, pledged that even with the limited business operation they will continue to deliver better services to their customers.

At present Topokki Man is serving its customers through online deliveries. Lee hoped they’d be able to resume business on June 1. (JOB)

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