This is mid July, and Metro Manila is still under community quarantine, which started four months ago as a means to contain the spread of Covid-19. Restaurants are hit hard by the restrictions imposed on personal mobility as well as concerns about COVID-19. Today, we see that some restaurants have reopened, but a few have remained closed and, sadly, look likely not to return.
We continue to buy take-outs and patron restaurants during community quarantine not only because of our desire for the food, but also as a way to help restaurant workers keep their jobs. From our observations of restaurants operating in Fort Bonifacio, we found that those have reopened and are doing decently (considering the situation), have taken measures that are likely to help them stay open.
Covid preventive measures
There are official requirements, such as one-way access, reduced capacity and physical distancing between customers that need to be in place. On top of that, how disinfection is carried out in front of the customers matters. It needs to be adequate on one hand, but not excessive on the other.
Asking customers to submit health declaration form on their smartphone is fine, but giving customers the additional option to fill in a paper form is better, as some people are more concerned about the protection of personal data than the hassle of cleaning the pen that will be used for filling in the form.
Some specialty coffee chains currently do not accept customers bringing in their reusable cups to get their coffee. This deters customers who are environmentally conscious to buy the coffee. One wonders why the coffee shops do not offer to wipe down the outside of the reusable cups with disinfectant wipes as an alternative.
Maintain food quality
If a restaurant stays open during COVID-19, does it put adequate resources in it so that the food quality is as good as it was? In our food take-out and dining experiences, many of them do. However, there were also a couple of occasions when we went to our often-visited restaurants and found the food to be subpar. As a result, we are going to stay away from them for at least our next few trips.
Make yourself visible
This sounds pretty obvious, but some restaurants that are covered by tinted glass do not seem to realize that people cannot see the 'Open' sign from afar, and a well-lit place is a more effective way to tell people that you are open. Install eye-catching LED lights near the front glass wall can help.
Visibility online is also crucial. For targeting residents in Fort Bonifacio, thefortcity.com can help to promote establishments on Facebook and Instagram, as well as in featured articles of this website.
Photo above: When people on the street see the lights inside a shop, they know it is open. If it is dark, people assume it is closed.
COVID-19 is said to be more infectious when one shares a confined space with many people. Outdoor space is therefore more desirable for those who are aware of this.
Photo above: restaurants have increased their outdoor seating capacity
Take Home Kits
In the days gone, some restaurants do not allow guests to bring leftover food home and did not offer take out service. Such restaurants, including Nagi Ramen, have now offered food kits that are to be cooked at home. As they say, necessity is the mother of innovation.
Money is tight for many during community quarantine. Many restaurant chains offer promo meals during the week. Even for restaurants that have great food quality, some sort of discounts may still be necessary in this difficult time.
Curb their enthusiasm
It is great that you get your customers back, but you need to make sure that they do not forget about the COVID-19 protocols. A couple of restaurants at Forbestown Road were ordered to close for a while in June, for breaching the government's rules on restaurants operating during the community quarantine. It is again a challenging balancing act of doing that without offending your customers.
Stay Safe and Happy
A quick resolution of the COVID-19 crisis is not in sight, so we expect a lot of restrictive measures to stay for a few more months at least. We'd like our restaurants to stay in business, at the same time we need to feel safe. Let us do our part so that we all stay safe, can enjoy good food, while giving others a chance to make a living.