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  • Nathan Hunt

How Will My Restaurant Recover After COVID-19?

4th June 2020

The UAE’s lockdown from the COVID-19 pandemic has delivered a major hit to every aspect of life, from the economy to day-to-day tasks. The worst hit sectors being travel and food and beverage. In the food and beverage industry, the pandemic not only hit the local market but also hit the global supply chain. With the UAE relying on up to 85% of its food being imported from abroad there has been a drop in food and beverage items available, this is down to the reduced number of international passenger flights which would carry perishable products in their cargo.

While the global COVID-19 pandemic evolved at unprecedented levels, the UAE took strict and disciplined measures to reduce the risk of infection. It was certainly not business as usual for the food and beverage industry. Just as quickly as the virus spread, restaurants were forced to close their doors and look at alternative revenue streams or face closing for good.

The Restaurant Recovery in the UAE

The UAE as with many other countries is now entering the recovery phase of COVID-19, with the food and beverage industry beginning to resume some normal activity, how the industry prepares for this is and how it identifies ways to help its customers and consumers will determine its outcome.

With many businesses already closing due to lack of revenue, it will be up to those who are left to knuckle down and get through the next stage. Restaurants need to look at ways to reduce their current costs and increase revenues. This will be a long and difficult process as suppliers are also looking to do the same.

How will restaurants reopen after the pandemic?

A few of my tips to restaurateurs to get through the next stage are:

  • Talk to your suppliers - try reaching out to your suppliers to ask if they will take back any non-perishable products that are still in sellable condition. There is a chance they will be able to resell it to another customer.Asking for discounts on products will see a negative response from most suppliers as those which deal with perishable items will likely have lost much stock as they could not move it during the lockdown.

  • Communicate with your customers - your restaurant may currently be in the worst place it has ever been financially, keeping it in your customers minds is crucial to winning back their business now it is time to reopen. If you’re not communicating with them and telling them what’s going on, they will think you have shut down for good. Social media is a great, free communication tool for restaurants which have switched to takeout and delivery only during the lockdown. Use your social media channels to remind and update your customers daily on what is going on, keep the content fun to get your customers excited about coming back. Let them know you are open and following strict health and safety guidelines issued by the authorities.

  • Take advantage of the stimulus packages on offer - it sounds obvious, but take the time to check into exactly what options are available to your restaurant and ensure that if it is something you will benefit from automatically, that it is reflected in your bills, or if it is something which you need to apply for, that you find out exactly how to do this and take the necessary action. The stimulus packages on offer vary depending upon the location of your restaurant, but generally relate to payment holidays for leases. Dubai restaurants will also be able to take advantage of up to 20% discount on utility bills for three months. And, in case your restaurant supplies to the government (e.g. catering services) an initiative has been announced for fast-tracking payments (15 days).

  • One step at a time - things will not immediately go back to the way they were pre-Covid-19. Your customers will still be wary of getting too close to anyone. Be prepared that customers are going to be hesitant and a little afraid, so don't be too optimistic, it will be necessary to build up your business one step at a time.

How can Gateway Group help your restaurant?

This crisis has hit hard and heavy, but it also will end and there is light at the end of the tunnel. With our many years of hospitality experience we can provide you with assistance in formulating a solid plan to get your business back on track. People say, ‘I just can’t wait for things to get back to normal.’ Well, it will be different and it will be necessary to be willing to change and work with the new 'normal'. Having a strategy in place and business blueprint to follow and implement, with the right attitude you can survive and you’ll also thrive. Engaging Gateway to develop your business blueprint and recovery strategy will give you a professional and impartial plan to get your business back on track.

Call Gateway Group: 600 567562

Written by Nathan Hunt, Senior Managing Partner

Gateway Group of Companies, Abu Dhabi & Dubai UAE


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