The “biggest desert ever”, a “terribly difficult” phase and “devastating months” – this is how many Portuguese cooks are characterizing the current situation of Portuguese restaurants that, like many other business areas, are going through a critical phase due to the new coronavirus. In general, they also call for union between the class, the understanding of customers and the attention of the government.
A little more than 24 hours have passed since the World Health Organization declared the pandemic state to be the fault of Covid-19, but before that the impact was already felt in the accounts of catering businessmen and cooks from all over the world – Portugal included. Only over this Thursday, however, did several Portuguese chefs speak in public, via social networks, mainly about the real situation they are facing. And this was even before the Government determined that restaurants would have to limit their capacity to one third, to ensure that customers are sufficiently distant to prevent the spread of the virus.
I have been working in hospitality for 26 years. Everything that I have conquered until today was the pulse. During this period I started creating teams…
“I have been working in hospitality for 26 years. Everything I have achieved to date has been a pulse. (…) I never thought that this pandemic would affect our business in such a quick and incisive way. ” These words were written by chef Rui Paula, the most recent two Portuguese stars (Casa de Chá da Boa Nova, D.O.P and D.O.C. are some of his best known restaurants, all of them in the north of the country) and judge of the national version of Masterchef. He was one of the first to raise the alarm through a long post on his social networks that quickly began to be shared by many other national cooks.
Like most of his professional colleagues who have not yet chosen to close their spaces, Rui Paula reinforces that in all his restaurants “the HACCP rules (“ Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points ”), which translates to“ Analysis of Hazards and Critical Control Points and care in contact with customers ”) but that“ cancellations never stop coming… ”This already translates into a“ 60% break ”in billing -“ We all know that this billing still VAT has to be discounted, nor is it worth talking about all the expenses inherent to the business, such as wages, social security, rent, electricity… ”The same northern cook also mentions that he never failed to pay suppliers,“ until the day of today".
I am writing this text at this point, because I am waiting for our government to take clear and objective measures regarding restoration, to help overcome this crisis.
If drastic and rapid implementation measures are not taken, half of the hotel / restaurant establishments in Portugal will close their doors. Companies need to be minimally healthy when implementing these measures and not already in the loss phase, otherwise recovery after COVID-19 will be extremely difficult. (…) In this hour that I write to you, I appeal to a group of chefs, restorers and hoteliers to raise their voices and unite in pressure to the competent entities. It is not a time of inertia, but of action! A concerted policy is urgent! ”
In Lisbon, according to the words of chef Alexandre Silva (from the starring Loco, from the new Fogo and from another space in the Mercado da Ribeira), the mood is identical. "If I were told that a virus would become a pandemic and that the economy would collapse, I would almost certainly laugh, the truth is that this is happening in front of our doors and inside our homes". This is what you read in a publication shared a few hours ago on facebook and instagram that comes with a photograph of a desert. “We face today what will be one of the biggest, if not the biggest, crises in the catering industry (and beyond)”, it also reads.
The World and Portugal have already gone through several crises in the hospitality sector, I myself, despite my age, have seen some crises …
The cook talks about the cancellations of reservations that arrive “at all hours”, of the various bills that will continue to have to be paid and all this even taking into account that they reinforced the HACCP system and the “health monitoring” of all employees. The call for unity and the intervention of political power is also the same as that of Rui Paula: “I ask the competent entities to put in place solutions to help companies overcome all this, because without work people will not be able to have quality of life and we can hardly get the world moving again in a timely manner. (…) I appeal to all Cooks and Entrepreneurs to join their voices and fight for the well being of the economy. ”
Also in Lisbon, chef Ljubomir Stanisic has already commented on this topic. The person responsible for spaces such as 100 Maneiras and 100 Maneiras Bistro is in line with his colleagues Alexandre Silva and Rui Paula, emphasizing that they have extended their precautionary measures in matters related not only to “hygiene protocols”, for example, but also “using existing stocks to reduce the frequency of orders and thus reduce the entry of new products”, increasing “the availability of disinfection products” and “closely monitoring the health of all employees”. What do you need to do? “Finally, and echoing many colleagues who have already expressed the same difficulties, at a terribly difficult time for everyone, we ask all members of the industry to come together so that, together with those responsible for our country, solutions can be developed that help companies survive this pandemic. ”
Dear customers and friends, we live in uncertain times. And it was this same uncertainty that led us not to…
In another publication, this one on his official instagram account, the same Ljubomir launches an even more urgent and targeted appeal to António Costa and Fernando Medina: “We need a great remedy, urgent!” Almost an hour before the Prime Minister spoke to the country and announced that a reduction in restaurant capacity to 1/3 would be imposed (among various things), “Ljubo”, as he is also known, spoke in a “cry for help” given in his name and on behalf of “all chefs who are suffering like never before”. “We are powerless. There is nothing else we can do alone. we need your help, we need a firm and imperative attitude, fast, urgent! ”wrote the cook.
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For great ills, great remedies. Dr. António Costa, dr. Fernando Medina, we need a great medicine, urgent! Government, competent institutions, this is a call, a cry for help. I use this weapon of visibility, to ask in my name, on behalf of my company, my employees, my family, but also on behalf of all chefs and hotel businessmen who are suffering like never before. We are in agony! Even though rigorous hygiene and safety measures have been put in place (even more), the demarcations and cancellations continue. Every hour is critical and, with each passing hour, it becomes more difficult to manage despair – from the teams, ours, from the sector. We are powerless. There is nothing else we can do alone. We need your help, we need a firm and decisive, fast, urgent attitude! I do not demand it, but rather I ask in all humility, and on behalf of everyone, a solution. Please don't let this country go down the drain …
To the south, in the Algarve, one of the most touristic regions in the country, both the reality and the forecasts are equally frightening. Rui Silvestre, the chef of the also recently starred Vistas, in Vila Nova de Cacela, resorted to facebook to say that “this is no time for games” because in the area of “catering and hospitality, fear and uncertainty are taking over all businesses ”. Like his professional colleagues, he points out that cancellations have been a constant and that if there is no union and “one voice” asking for help, the future will not be smiling – “no one is prepared for a new economic crisis.”
It is not the time for gamesIn social media we continue to see jokes from those who have not yet realized the fragile moment …
On the same day that the Associação de Hotelaria de Portugal predicted losses of tourist revenues between 500 and 800 million euros during the next four months (an area closely linked to the restaurant), many restaurants also announced that they would close their doors. In the Algarve, for example, there is the case of Avenue, in Faro. In Lisbon the Amorim Luxury Group announced the closure of all “JNCQUOI” spaces and many other businesses in the same area will certainly follow the same path.
Outside, in other countries that are also facing this viral outbreak that has turned the world inside out, the desperation of professionals in this area is identical. In Spain, there are already those who ask customers not to cancel their reservations, instead choose to postpone it because they will be helping these businesses.
From Italy there is also news that the chef's Aqua Crua restaurant …