COVID-19 restrictions had eased up in recent months, teasing citizens with a veil of normalcy as patrons revisited their favourite haunts, and restaurants slowly resumed usual operations. However, the recent stringent lockdown implemented on 6 August 2021, sharply demystified that presumption, leaving restaurants with no choice but to revert back to take-away and deliveries alone, if at all.
“It’s been a real rollercoaster for us,” says celebrated chef Margarita Forés, sharing “things were going so well up to last month. Our restaurant sales were almost back to normal”. FooDee Global Concepts COO and Kraver’s Canteen co-founder Eric Thomas Dee echoes Forés’ observation, adding “now we’re back to square one”.
However, the repeated restrictions have equipped these professionals with the experience needed to face these now-familiar challenges head-on. Reflecting back on the first round of ECQ, actor-turned-restaurateur and cloud concept entrepreneur Marvin Agustin recalls that “we all had to rethink, re-strategise, and relearn what we knew”. While the pandemic's developing and unprecedented obstacles remain, Dee states “we’re learning as we go, but this time we’re more prepared”.
In a discussion moderated by food writer and cookbook author Angelo Comsti, Forés, Dee, and Agustin share these essential learnings to empower aspiring restaurateurs hoping to achieve the same success. Read on for shining examples of how to pivot your business model to stay afloat, must-know insights about the surge of cloud kitchens, and more.