When the pandemic caused restaurants and bars to close down earlier this year, little did they know they would not be reopening for months. With heavy rents and staff wages to be paid per month, many food and drink establishments were forced to their knees. Closing down was not helping pay their bills, but staying open was expensive and difficult too. Their local patrons were housebound and tourists were no longer walking in through their doors.
While chefs and owners across Europe were staring bankruptcy in the face, the only way these outlets were able to survive was through delivery services. Hundreds of delivery people emerged overnight, helping the corner kebab store and the neighborhood pizza joint subsist. While many industries saw a downturn during the pandemic, not surprisingly, delivery services saw a rise.
Keeping the delivery persons busy were people seeking epicurean food in the comfort and safety of their homes. Since the State of Alarm was announced in Spain, for instance, the purchase of food went up by close to 50%. Stuck in their houses, people were starting to get tired of cooking and they began seeking the luxury of gourmet options delivered at their doorstop. They were no longer content with the steady old choices of pizzas and hamburgers. The average adult wanted to taste Turkish, Iranian and South Asian food, allowing smaller food businesses to keep their kitchens open.
Another trend that caught on and kept chefs bustling around their pantries was the wave of solidarity, where anonymous citizens were ordering food delivery for friends and family in need. In the spirit of gratitude, chefs and restaurants formed associations to prepare and deliver warm meals to police officers, fire fighters and hospital staff. In the US alone, more than 800,000 meals were prepared for frontline workers.
Now as businesses slowly reopen, restaurants and bars are challenged to find innovative ways to function while maintaining health and safety regulations. In warmer climates, patio dining has become more popular than ever before. Restaurants are investing in screens and sanitary welcome kits to make dining-in services possible. Some outlets are placing mannequins at alternating tables to create a suitable distance between diners. Meals are being served alongside hand sanitizers by waiters and waitresses decked out in face masks.
After a harrowing couple of months, restaurants, nightclubs and bars that have survived the pandemic are raring to go. However, safety precautions must be exercised to prevent a potential second outbreak. With 2.6 million citizens employed in tourism, countries like Spain are banking on the renewal of tourism and the return of foreigners.