Stay calm: How to take the coronavirus crisis one day at a time

As a restaurateur that’s been in the industry for many years and has overcome many challenges, I can safely say I have never faced anything as damaging to our business as the current Covid-19 crisis. However, it’s times like these that we all have to pull together to find solutions and ways forward. This is my advice to other restaurants which have recently been told to close.

The first piece of advice I would give to everybody in the hospitality industry is to stay calm, as hard as it may be in the situation we are all in, try not to panic. Covid 19 is a global issue, which will affect many, so we must listen to our government’s guidelines regarding health and safety, closures and deliveries.

We are in the early stages of this pandemic, and the unfortunate truth is we will all have to take one day at a time and try our best to adapt our businesses to the challenges. Contacting your accountant to help understand what help you are entitled to is always a good idea. They can advise you further on your next steps as all restaurants are independent and different. Knowing what support you are entitled to and what help your staff can access will alleviate stress and anxiety.

The safety of my staff is paramount, and every decision I make should consider this. They make up the workforce to run the business, and all measures have been put in place to protect them, be it physically, emotionally or even financially. Informing and reassuring them at every step will help keep them calm and give them the confidence that you will stand by them.

Communication is key when you are in business, especially when liaising with all of your suppliers from laundry, groceries, poultry, beverages, coffee, fruit and veg. Due to the current crisis, several suppliers are unable to supply goods; fresh goods that we usually source from local companies are not available. 

In order to minimise wastage of the food and supplies we currently have, we have found innovative ways to create simple, hearty and delicious food from what we have left. This will be distributed to more vulnerable members of our society like the elderly, front line NHS staff, and care workers. As a business, we are in a better position to reach out to our local communities, the hospitals and care homes, which is what we are doing. 

While it is essential to look out for each other, it is just as important to look after yourself, or you risk the ability to not help others. If you can protect your business, you will automatically protect your staff, the community and economy. If your business is in a rented premise, be sure to contact your landlord and see if there is any rent relief available. Also, contact your local council for advice on any business rates relief.

Lastly, ensure all communication is transparent. Regular updates for customers, staff, and suppliers around any sudden changes are essential. This forms a family atmosphere where we all look out for each other, creating a cohesive community enabling us to pick up and carry on from where we left off. 

Together we have the power to overcome anything.

By Luthfur Rahman, founder of The Mint Room Group of Restaurants

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