Restaurant, cafe and bar owners are terrified of what is to come


Another month of patience should be made by those who wish to dine in a restaurant or enjoy their coffee in their favorite hangout. And these under certain conditions, as the measures announced so far by the government are quite restrictive in order not to lose all the struggle that we have all given so far to deal with the pandemic of coronavirus.

An experience that is definitely very different from the pre-coronavirus era, which will mark the new reality in which we are all called to adapt after the lockdown.

The restaurants, therefore, are expected to open on June 1, and only for those businesses that have tables outside. In the second stage, the operation of those who do not have outdoor spaces from July is examined.

The basic conditions for the operation of restaurants and cafes are the application of the minimum distance of two meters between the table seats and the obligatory use of a mask and gloves by all the staff, as well as the use of antiseptic. Also, a maximum number of customers per square meter will be applied with one customer per 3 sq.m., while the companies at each table should not exceed the number of 4 people.

Mr. George Kavaklis, co-owner of the Spoiled bars in Daphne and Barro Negro in Karytsi Square, expressed his opinion on the measures to , who considers that “the most correct would be the number of people we can serve to be calculated. from the squares of the space (interior-exterior) and not from the distances between the tables, which I consider practically impossible to happen “.

Concern and expectation from entrepreneurs

However, most of the businessmen in the area are worried, as they are already experiencing a sharp drop in their turnover, holding a wait-and-see attitude towards what is to come, according to the government’s further announcements and clarifications, which are expected by June 1st.

For his part, Mr. Nikos Hatziandreas, owner of the all day The Bar Lab in Aretsou and the all day Marvel on the pedestrian street of Kalamaria in Thessaloniki, finds it very difficult the next day for the industry. As he characteristically points out to us, “the catering and entertainment industry has been hit hard in recent years, with the coroner’s pandemic being the icing on the cake. The operating costs of the companies are very high, and there is no real help from anywhere. How can we maintain a business with 20 staff members with 50% of the tables, and only those outside?

With the turnover significantly reduced and the cost of everyday life burdened and with the additional measures that entrepreneurs have to take such as buying masks for staff, antiseptics for themselves and customers in various places, additional hygiene methods in the toilets, especially sails and detergents for the cleanliness of the tables with each change of customer etc. Mr. Hadjiandreas points out that “the expenses are running, but there is no reason on the part of the municipality for the reduction of municipal fees or the non-payment of rent for the outdoor table seats for the three months that we remained closed” while, he hopes, in a braver regulation regarding the payment of the reduced rent with extension of the measure until the end of the year.

Mr. Kavaklis sees the forecasts for the future of catering in general as ominous. According to him, “the key to any business will be the quick reflexes that will show in a market that will completely change the way it offers its service for a long time. Also the support measures and the understanding of the state towards a branch that has been set up and developed under very different conditions “.

Owners see the possibility of closed stores

Some of them, however, are facing even more significant problems, considering the possibility that their businesses will not work at all , as the restrictive measures set by the government leave them no other room. Mr. Tassos Helmis, owner of eatery & coffee Zaf and the Italian restaurant School Pizza Bar in Agia Irini Square in the heart of Athens, is one of them.

As he characteristically told us, “we who are active in the center have a large spatial restriction with the distance they have set as a minimum between the table seats. Based on the government’s announcements so far, I am seriously considering the possibility of not reopening my operations on June 1st. I already have a few tables outside, and with the strict restrictions, the maximum number that corresponds to each of my businesses is the four tables. With so few customers, how will I be able to pay my staff, my rent, my electricity? It doesn’t cost much, at least not for me. For other companies, such as those located right on Agia Irini Square, which have larger outdoor areas, the situation may be more favorable. ”

The same scenario is being considered by entrepreneurs from a well-known fish restaurant in the center of Thessaloniki , arguing that “the measures with the mandatory distance of two meters between the tables and one person per 3 sq.m. they are not viable for hundreds of businesses that do not have a large outdoor space. ”

In fact, they themselves point out another problem that will arise in the event that some companies decide not to operate: “From June 1, the state considers us open companies, even those of us who decide not to open. Which means it’s about to be the most delusional time of the year, as well.

Most of the professionals in the catering industry are waiting for the future announcements , as there are many versions that need to be clarified in order for them to decide what to do.

“We are waiting for the decision of the mayor of Athens regarding the extra square meters without additional charge that is under discussion to be given in the shops of the center”, Mr. Helmis explains, adding that “in addition we are waiting for the new announcements in the coming days.” the duration of measures for June, as well as the subsidy of the salary in order to be able to maintain the existing jobs “.

Job loss is possible

However, for his part, the representative of the Panhellenic Association of Shops-Consumers of Catering & Entertainment, George Zouridakis, had clarified a few days ago to that there will definitely be an impact on the staff of businesses.

More specifically, he pointed out that “the new measures will clearly affect the staff of the companies. There will be reductions, which foretells that many of our fellow citizens will be driven to unemployment. Even in very small restaurants, at least five people work. In the big ones we can see around 15 to 20 people but this number is just the picture we have as in fact there are three people. There are employees we don’t see, they clean the store or they are in the kitchen. In these companies, the blow will be even greater. ”

A problem that will require resolution and non-compliance of customers with the new rules

Another problem that arises with the operation of businesses and the restrictive measures is whether a portion of customers are willing to adapt and obey them. “The only sure thing is that there will be many who will not be able to adapt to the restrictions. There will be tension with the customers, as happened with the issue of cigarettes “, Mr. Helmis points out, while Mr. Hatziandreas talks about a very difficult equation, considering it paradoxical that a family of five will be invited to dine at two different tables. .

For his part, the PASKEDI representative estimates that “the picture of the controls will be similar to the one we saw in the first period of implementation of the anti-smoking law. Steps will be taken to ensure that businesses and consumers alike adhere to the State’s guidelines and government guidelines. ”

Changing philosophy in the previous way of having fun


Mr. Hatziandreas predicts a 180 degree turn in the way Greeks have fun, as with the way the new reality has been shaped, the fun as we knew it will no longer exist, at least for the first time. “We are entertainers, people come to our shops to have carefree fun and instead we are called to provide them with an awkward and sterile environment. In addition, with music not allowed outdoors, the role of the dj in a cafe-bar now seems unnecessary, so it would be reasonable to think about why going out, since what he used to enjoy, no longer exists. as a reality. ”

Scenarios have also been put on the table to change the way cocktails are served, such as being served in closed bottles for a greater sense of security on the part of customers. “We are doing this not only to make customers feel safe, but also to be able to work with the new reality that will be formed,” explains Mr. Hatziandreas.

For their part, the owners of the fish restaurant in the center of Thessaloniki are almost determined that in the event that the menu finally works, it will adapt to the new data, with its proposals being much more specific and less, since they will be able to serve just 5 people at a time outside.

Mr. Kavaklis referred to the changes in the way of entertainment and more specifically in the nightlife, emphasizing that “in any case, social contact and socializing must remain not only for the existence of bars, but also because it is a basic human need. Overcoming our initial fears (which make a lot of sense) we will be able to communicate and interact. We need to avoid increasingly digitizing people’s sociability, and bars play a very important role in this. ”

What everyone is hoping for is that the measures will be reviewed gradually and, depending on the timeliness and developments, will be revised, which means that if the virus progresses well, there is a possibility that they will return to full function more immediately than before. they were waiting.


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