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Sun 22 Mar 2020 11:12 AM

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Covid-19: Now is the time to encourage and support Dubai's restaurant industry

In this unprecedented time, restaurant, lounge and bar operators live in hospitality-limbo amid fears of job losses and closures, writes Celina Aoun

Covid-19: Now is the time to encourage and support Dubai's restaurant industry

In this unprecedented time, restaurant, lounge and bar operators live in hospitality-limbo.

Coronavirus poses an existential threat on the hospitality industry, amid newly announced regulations and measures aiming at flattening the curve of Covid-19 cases.

In this unprecedented time, restaurant, lounge and bar operators live in hospitality-limbo amid fears of hundreds of thousands of job losses and business closures which could severely damage a significant driver of economic growth in a tourist-driven city such as Dubai.

Amid these growing concerns, it is not the time to question the struggling industry’s marketing tactics; instead, now is the best time to collectively think of ways on how to support the industry.

While self-quarantining and isolation recommendations will continue, I would like to recommend a few short-term revenue-generating options and advice to help businesses support their infrastructure or what is left of it:

  • Encouraging dine-in via trusted delivery partners who play a key role in driving this tactic.
  • Delivery partners to be more flexible with contractual obligations related to duration of the contract and offer a six months package deal for new restaurants participators.
  • Delivery partners to ensure the visibility of all struggling restaurants equally.
  • Encouraging curbside pick-up by inviting guests to opt for take outs from their favourite restaurants without having to come out of their vehicles. Staff will help deliver the sanitised packages to the car.
  • Cutting food cost by limiting menu items to bestsellers and items highly-recommended by the chef. In addition, limit menu items and options to those that travel well.
  • For high-end restaurants, developing new menu items and options that are good for take-out and delivery.
  • Promoting gift card sales to existing customers as a way to generate cash flow.
  • Continuously communicating current status and offers via e-mail and social media platforms. Staying offline will contribute to the death of your business.
  • Working through existing inventories.
  • Encouraging catering services.
  • Considering operating one shift, the one that has proven to generate most of the business’ sales.
  • Maximising good times to get through tough times through offers and packages that are consumer friendly such as: Discounts on select items for take-out or delivery options and set shared-style menus for families for dine-in options.
  • Encouraging customers tipping to support wages.
  • Keeping abreast of covid19 updates and government regulations as situations will change on a daily basis.

It is a hard pill to swallow, especially for the line of chefs, dishwashers, waiters, hosts and hostesses who face sharply reduced hours and unpaid leaves, but the only way to survive this is to encourage your local business and increase delivery and take out demands.

Remember, this too shall pass and the rise will be greater than the fall.


Celina Aoun is founder of lifestyle communications agency Tête-à-Tête.

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