GEORGE NEWS - Restaurants are facing the tough decision of whether it's worth their while to make use of the easing of lockdown regulations during Level 4 that will allow them to deliver meals as of 1 May.
The owner of The Pottery, Jocelyn Marshall, says it's "tricky". "We can't afford to lose a single penny, so we have to decide which is the smartest and most innovative way to work with staff, buy supplies and start the pizza oven without knowing if the demand is adequate. It all costs money."
She says they don't serve dinner, and when people order in, it's mostly for dinners. "We will try to gauge people's interest and the demand on social media, perhaps start with our core staff and a few popular dishes. It is uncertain if people will have the budget to buy takeaway meals as some have lost their income or part of their income."
Kafe Serefe owner Carolien van Rensburg says they may start preparing some of the meals and cold desserts on their menu to be sold in the Van Rensburgs Foods outlets if there is demand. "We are already selling prepared meals from the fridge and freezer and we may expand on this if there is an increased demand. Pre-prepared meals have been popular among the staff working at businesses in the vicinity of Van Rensburgs Foods outlets, but with all businesses closed for the lockdown, this demand has diminished."
The manager of Deacon Bistro, Pierre Puren, says there is too much uncertainty and no decisions have been taken yet. "We don't have an idea what lies ahead, but will keep our patrons informed."
Dean Hahn, shareholder and co-owner of the two Spur franchises in George, said the situation is uncertain but they will definitely be reopening as soon as they can. "It depends on the restrictions that are in place as they have a material impact on whether it is viable or not. As soon as the restrictions are less severe and the market conditions have improved, we will be reopening."
Hahn is also a co-owner in the local franchises of Panarotti's, Nando's and Rocomama's.
Spur's corporate communications manager, Moshe Apleni, in a statement on Tuesday 28 April, said each restaurant in the group is independently owned and operated under franchise and it should be financially viable for them to open for deliveries only. "It is important to note that our restaurants are largely sit-down and the overhead structures associated with this business model are significant (measurably more than a quick service restaurant). Opening the doors for trade is not an inexpensive exercise and therefore it is incumbent that we and our franchisees are certain that the trade generated will at the very least cover the costs of opening. It is critical that opening for deliveries only is commercially viable."
According to an earlier statement by chief operating officer Mark Farrelly, immediately after the President's announcement of a national disaster in March, before the lockdown, the group zero-rated franchisee and marketing fees for the second half of March and the entire month of April in an effort to provide financial relief to their 600 franchisees.
* The Level 4 regulations still do not allow the sale of alcohol.
Slow-food eatery Bistro Celeiro, in the hills above Wilderness on the Diep Rivier Seven Passes Road, is owned by Julio Agrella, his wife Susan and son Julio. They will not be making deliveries. "We are [normally] open on Sundays, public holidays, most days during peak season and for special events. People come to us not only for the food, but for a long, relaxed day in the country to enjoy the ambiance and beautiful setting."
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