Businesses take highly-calculated steps and create robust contingency plans—but the crisis pushed the industry into a period of uncertainty. While most businesses stopped in its tracks, with only few finding the means to move forward, is there a future for the industry to be excited about?
For Baba Ibazeta-Benedicto, chef-owner of Nono’s, the main challenge is not knowing what was going to happen. Government announcements were frequently made at the last minute and no one knows what’s going to be mandated—and for how long it will take effect. Despite efforts to sustain businesses, especially small ones, she personally feels that the industry can always use a little more help.
“The malls extended help by waiving rent. If we decide to open during GCQ or ECQ, our rent will be reduced to a small portion of our sales. It would be nice if this was extended until the end of the year. The government can help, too. Regulations, for example, in terms of a commission cap for third-party delivery services or a subsidy for government-mandated discounts would be helpful to businesses of any size,” Ibazeta-Benedicto explains.
There’s still much work left to do to assist businesses of all scales. Finding creative ways to keep businesses afloat requires more than just inspiration—there has to be enough resources to look after the business and its people. During the F&B Pocket Summit, Carmen’s Best CEO Paco Magsaysay says that he’s too busy thinking about pivots for his business instead of new initiatives.
“Aside from where the business should go in terms of direction, I haven’t really thought of much innovations with regards to my industry which is ice cream and logistics,” he notes.
Tasteless Food Group CEO Charles Paw, who was also part of the panel along with Magsaysay and Adrian Dimacali of Mary Grace Foods Inc., is currently experimenting on ways to utilize their kitchen and staff. Paw says that pickup and delivery services alone do not fully maximize the restaurant’s potential as opposed to dine-in operations and so he wanted to look at cloud kitchens, also known as virtual or ghost kitchens, behind each of their concepts.
Nono’s, on the other hand, is planning to develop lunchbox sets for workers and ready-to-cook meals as well as launch their own in-house delivery service. Ibazeta-Benedicto believes the pandemic brought restaurant owners closer as a community. As everyone is facing the same rough road ahead, supporting each other by sharing tips, resources and knowledge has solidified business relationships, contributing to industry recovery.
“On a personal note, I think this pandemic has also taught me what is important in life. We shouldn’t take things for granted. It has brought families together. My family has weekly zoom calls. It was nice to spend time with my husband. I realized you don’t need much to be happy,” says Ibazeta-Benedicto.
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