On March 16th Romanian government officials announced that HORECA businesses would be closed in order to stop the spread of the coronavirus. As a result, some the restaurants have moved their businesses online – either through takeaway platforms or by delivering food themselves. BR talked to several key figures from the HORECA industry to find out what’s next for them.
Social distancing in the restaurant business: Ioana Negulescu (Food on Our Tables)
What is “Food on our tables” initiative?
Food on our Tables is a project that aims to bring people from the food and beverage industry together, and enable them to share ideas, come up with new ones, and start a conversation globally, that would have an effect locally. So far, we have had a series of workshops and round tables – online, of course, with business owners from Romania, Austria, The Netherlands and the US (more countries to be added very soon). We have also discussed the most pressing challenges that the industry faces at the moment and that will face once this is over. Then, we started tackling one of these challenges at a time, which will keep happening in the next few weeks. All the conversations are recorded and summarised on foodonourtables.com, because transparency and the ability for these ideas to reach further into the industry are at the core of the initiative.
What’s the feedback so far?
The feedback so far is very positive. So far, most of our participants have shown their interest to participate again in future sessions, and have been joining us multiple times. We’re also getting an increased level of interest from other f&b business owners, so I’m hoping we’ll be able to grow the community. On this week’s call, lots of ideas bounced off each other from people who had not known each other before, whether that was ‘let’s get together and share the packaging supplier and deliveries’, to ‘here’s an idea I just had for your business’.
What’s going to happen next with this initiative?
We will continue having these online meet-ups and grow the community. we’ve already had guests who presented inspiring projects they started, like Gault&Millau Romania and Drinking Against Sinking (a project with a universal label for winemakers to use in order to support their distribution network), so this is something I’m looking into right now, how can we feature great initiatives more, share their stories, ask questions, and open a dialogue between other f&b business owners with similar challenges. One very inspiring idea that came out of this week’s conversation was starting a Slack channel where we can share information and ideas. All in all, there will be a lot more happening.
In your opinion, how the restaurants’ scene is going to change after this pandemic?
I could write a dissertation on how the restaurant scene will change after this pandemic. I think, first of all, there will be fewer restaurants with crammed tables. I think more people (both consumers and restaurant owners / chefs) will focus on local produce more. I think restaurants will continue doing deliveries. I think restaurants will open shops, where they will sell canned food, maybe even produce from their suppliers, together with cookbooks, t-shirts, artwork and other memorabilia. I think there will be a lot more collaboration between restaurants, their supplier network and guests. I also think there will be more cooking classes, almost ready meals that you can finish at home, and more.