There’s no denying that Covid19 sent a wrecking ball through the world’s economy, but now the hospitality industry is making a global comeback. Bars and restaurants are preparing to adapt and overcome these extraordinary times, proving to be one of the most innovative and resilient industries to survive the crisis. We have witnessed businesses join forces to help support each other, only reinforcing the strength and unity of our dynamic industry. Some of the largest drinks companies across the world have donated funds to support those who have lost their livelihoods. Drinks brand The London Essence Co. launched a campaign called ‘cheers to you’ to help support the on-trade during the pandemic. Another campaign, created by Speciality Drinks partnered with Edrington-Beam Suntory UK, supplied wellbeing packs to those working in the UK drinks and hospitality sectors. These acts of kindness amid an unthinkable crisis only highlights the generosity and empathy this industry is proud to celebrate.
Pressing the re-set button
In a bid to kickstart the economy, countries across the world are starting to ease social restrictions. The light at the end of a 4-month long tunnel is welcomed relief for the hospitality sector. In the UK alone, more than 30,000 pubs, bars and restaurants are set to remain permanently closed. However, on Saturday 4th July some of England’s most cherished venues opened their doors for the first time in 105 days. While some might have survived (or even enjoyed) the forced detox, ‘super Saturday’ pulled a large percentage of the country out of hibernation. Glasses were chinked, embraces were cherished, and barmen got back to doing what they do best – creating great drinks and good times. TV bartender, pub owner and Global Bartending Talent member Merlin Griffiths is on the committee handling government change for the industry, and says,
“It’s such a relief in many ways to be open again, albeit with guidelines that affect everyone’s ability to trade. Weeks of uncertainty, mounting costs (utilities, rent, insurance, maintenance obligations, lost stock) and no clear route out certainly took their toll on many operators. But we’re not out of the woods yet. It’s vital to remember turnover does not equal profit, and reduced capacity combined with wavering consumer confidence mean for many, it’s still less of a loss to remain closed for now. For those that are open, again the challenge lies in presenting themselves safely without negatively impacting the art of service, and tenaciously controlling costs.
As we head into an uncertain future we must not forget the issues still present and exacerbated by months of closure; rent for many is still due and despite a voluntary code of practise landlords are proving intractable, retaining employees another, as employer contributions for furloughed staff increase in August and difficult decisions will have to be made if there isn’t enough trade to return staff to work. Nobody ever thought it was going to be easy though, and it’s a pain shared across the board for small businesses and the country at large. Being the eternal optimist, my glass half full, I believe in the resilience of the hospitality industry and its capable and creative people.”
Same storm, different boat
Columnist Damian Barr released a poem that resonated across the world – ‘We are not all in the same boat, but we are all in the same storm.’ This simple yet profound statement invokes a sense of solidarity and understanding that truly reflects the feeling within the industry. Countries such as China, Australia, Asia, and the UK have begun a phased reopening for hospitality, however there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach. The drinks industry has stood strong and tall behind the scenes and prepared for the day restrictions would lift. Hong Kong based restaurant chain Black Sheep even publicly shared a 17-page playbook on how it’s navigating the pandemic. And, while face masks and social distancing are now part of the reopening blueprint, tough times call for exceptional hygiene measures. As a result, innovative procedures such as electrostatic fogging, thermal imaging cameras and table mobile ordering apps are providing a safer environment for the opening of restaurants and bars. The creation of these technologies will be vital for putting trust back into the industry, helping to re-shape the customers experience for a post-covid world.
Changes in consumer behaviour
It’s no surprise that a Covid19 has profoundly changed consumer behaviours, but to what degree? The truth is no one can really know for sure, but early signals show that customers will pay more attention to the safety of food and drink choices. Traceability is key, knowing whether the source of the ingredients is reliable, the quality is good enough, and the handling of the ingredients is safe. Wellness, comfort, and health now occupy a more prominent place in consumer considerations and habits. How bars and restaurants coordinate their resources and adapt to these changes will be critical to their survival.
Dan Dove, director of Global Bartending, has spent most of his career educating the industry on eco conscious principles that enable a more holistic approach to a sustainable business. Global Bartending places the highest importance on sustainability, innovation, and quality ingredients. This and an exceptional global talent team provide a unique combination that is already ahead of the industry curve. The industry has changed, but the essence of hospitality remains the same – to provide an extraordinary service, whatever the weather.