How restaurant businesses act now in terms of dealing with their staff and suppliers as well as how they continue to engage with people across every aspect of their business - including their customers - will mark them out for the future once the lockdown restrictions have been lifted, according to Patty & Bun founder Joe Grossman.
Grossman, who operates 10 burger restaurants in London and Brighton, says that the Coronavirus pandemic had devastated businesses across the hospitality supply chain but stressed the importance of people coming together to support each other.
“Everyone is affected, from small mom and pop restaurants to massive chains, from landlords all the way down to suppliers, everyone is feeling the pain,” he says. “You have got to be very transparent and communicate with everyone across the board, because we’re all in it together.
“This is a time when people need to have an element of understanding and fairness and work together to be in the best place as possible to try and climb back up the ladder when they reopen. The way you operate now in terms of dealing with suppliers and staff is going to define you for a very long time.”
"The way you operate now in terms of dealing
with suppliers and staff is going to define
you for a very long time”
A sense of togetherness
Grossman also says that the UK’s imposed lockdown has created a sense of togetherness among many struggling restaurant business, which he hopes would continue well into the future.
“The camaraderie of the industry has been amazing. We are not an industry making profit hand over fist at the best of times and something like this could change the entire restaurant landscape like never before, so it is amazing to see people come together.”
Patty & Bun recently launched its Lockdown DIY Patty Kit, in collaboration with its meat supplier HG Walter, which allows customers to make its burgers at home. “We’ve got a great ecosystem of suppliers. If we’ve got the opportunity to order in from our suppliers and feed that ecosystem then that’s amazing. That for me is one of the most important things.
“These suppliers are who we are. A lot of suppliers are not being paid, and it’s hard to hear that because without that ecosystem there is no restaurant industry.”
"When lockdown eases, that is the
real road of pain. This is crisis management
like no one’s ever seen before"
Life after lockdown
Like many in the industry, Grossman also has significant fears about how the restaurant sector might have to operate once the lockdown is lifted.
“The virus is obviously absolutely horrific but the other virus to the restaurant industry is the uncertainty and the sense of the unknown, which is unprecedented. When lockdown eases, that is the real road of pain. This is crisis management like no one’s ever seen before.
“There is going to be a really big question mark going forward - how does the restaurant landscape look in the recovery period and beyond? Will it ever get back to where we were? Will there be more restrictions in terms of how we operate?
“I’m an optimist. But the sad thing
is that there will be a ton of casualties”
“I don’t think anyone knows the answers and that’s the scary thing right now. But for 12-18 months the restaurant industry will be nowhere near where it was before.”
Companies have so far been managing the first phase of survival and dealing with every part of the supply chain, from furloughing staff and negotiating with landlords to speaking with suppliers. However, it will be in phase two, the recovery period, where Grossman the real pain lies.
“That recovery is when we will really see a lot happen and people going under. There will be fewer restaurants out there and there is going to be a lot of pressure [on restaurants] in terms of being as efficient and operating as best you can in very very tough conditions.
“No doubt businesses are going to have to be a bit leaner and more efficient. But what does that look like?
“I’m an optimist. I believe that we are going to get through this. But the sad thing is that there will be a ton of casualties.”