Resto player: Dine-out culture will not die but may take time to recover

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This was how Raki Urbina, vice president of Laguna Garden Café and the Hotel, Resort and Restaurant Association of Cebu, described the fate of the restaurant industry during this pandemic.

“It’s the hardest part. You don’t know how things are going to look like in a week, a month or even a few months from now. Restaurants everywhere were forced to reexamine their marketing strategies to dig into their creative depth and in many cases, beyond their typical comfort zones,” Urbina said in an online forum hosted by the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Urbina said they focused on protecting their manpower, especially since availability of transportation remains a challenge.

“Traveling to work remains difficult even now with limited transportation. In as much as we try to save financially, the reality is it costs us more to provide shuttles and even (provide) accommodations just for them to be placed near the place of work,” he said.

With fewer stores, Urbina said their purveyors have been affected and so has the normal supply chain.

“Logistics proved to be very hard and ended up with limited supply and even fewer choices. Not to mention the old stocks that create a shortage of raw materials and products in areas and even excess in some areas,” he said.

Competition also doubled as households and start-ups joined the frenzy in the food business, he said.

“A drastic change in the food traffic is expected as patrons will remain fearful and cautious in returning to the restos. However, we remain positive that the dining culture will not die although it would certainly take time and a lot of adjustments to encourage diners to go back,” he said.

Dine-in restaurants are allowed to operate at 50 percent capacity in areas declared under modified general community quarantine.

In adherence to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) guidelines, all dine-in services and transactions shall be delivered as fast and as contactless as possible.

The DTI also said there should be proper ventilation and exhaust systems in the establishment. / JOB