Restaurants try to resist Covid’s most serious moment – 4/2/2021 – Mpme

More than a third of Brazil’s restaurants and bars have closed their doors since Covid’s arrival until February this year, according to Abrasel (Brazilian Association of Bars and Restaurants). Most of the sector, 98%, is made up of micro, small and medium-sized companies, according to the entity.

Those who survived are now going through the worst moment: even with innovations and delivery, many have accumulated debts, layoffs of employees and are still waiting for new support measures. “When there is such a significant setback, you lose your breath. At the beginning of the pandemic, companies still had fat to burn. Today everything is over ”, says Fernando Blower, executive director of ANR (National Association of Restaurants).

According to him, there was even a slow and gradual recovery until December last year. However, with the advancement of coronavirus, many states have banned or restricted customer service at the salon.

Faced with this scenario, many businesses that resisted the pandemic for almost a year began to close their doors. Among them, some historical ones, such as Lá em Casa, in Belém do Pará (PA), led by the same family for 49 years —including chef Paulo Martins (1946-2010), a pioneer in promoting the cuisine of the Amazon region.

One of the most traditional houses of the carioca scene, Cervantes, closed the unit in Copacabana indefinitely and, in São Paulo, the list grows with Lá da Venda, the Bar Genésio and the Casa de Francisca, a mix of concert space and restaurant.

For entrepreneurs, entities and analysts, the wave of closings will continue if there is no support from the municipal, state and federal governments. The most anticipated measure is that which allows suspending contracts or reducing workers’ wages and wages, with partial aid in cash from the government. According to Abrasel research, 78% of the segment says they have no cash for April wages.

Delivery, the only operating alternative for many homes at the moment, accounts for only 30% of a shop’s normal turnover – and about a third of homes have no level of delivery, says the ANR.

Chef Janaina Rueda, 46, looked for delivery solutions for all the houses she has with her husband, Jefferson, in the central region of São Paulo – the restaurant A Casa do Porco, the snack bar Hot Pork and the Bar da Dona Onça.

In March, the delivery of the Sorveteria do Centro began. Even so, the business accumulated a debt, between fees and taxes, which reaches almost R $ 2 million, even though it received an investment of R $ 1.8 million from the partners to pay “You say you are not billing and people ask: ‘What about delivery?’. It is another business, it has nothing to do with the structure that is built to serve people and offer hospitality. ”

Chef Ivan Ralston, 35, from Tujuína, in Vila Madalena, started the delivery operation in January, but says the margin is small. “It would only be the solution for a world that has a Covid wave.” A year ago, Ivan did his last job at Tuju, a restaurant with two stars in the “Michelin Guide” and which only worked with a tasting menu.

In the same space, Tujuína reopened in September, with an à la carte menu and a more informal service. “Tuju was at its peak, but I understood that it would be difficult for this type of restaurant to survive the pandemic. We changed the menu four times a year, doing research. It also depended on foreigners and people traveling. So, we decided to keep this project ”, he says.

The chef also decided to incorporate a bakery into the business space. “I would like to open a shop window, but it’s hard to imagine that now. We are doing as many things as possible in the space we have. My company is in the minimum model ”, says the chef, who had to lay off 30 employees in the crisis.

Chef Telma Shiraishi, 51, in front of the Japanese restaurant Aizomê, in São Paulo, had never delivered. With the pandemic, it started delivering tasting menus, created a virtual store with products and supplies and launched, in January, a boxed meals brand, Bentô Box, which operates only by delivery.

“The idea is to offer, for people in the home office, a more practical and tasty solution”, says Telma. Even with good acceptance, the billing does not come close to pre-Covid.

Delivery-oriented businesses led by chefs or well-known brands have also started to emerge. In January, Cia. Tradicional de Comércio launched Devoro, a multi-brand delivery platform accessed by applications. The customer can choose from more than 70 options that came from the menu of the group’s houses, such as the Astor bar and the Bráz pizzeria. Orders are prepared in a separate kitchen.

“We opened our eyes to moments of alternative consumption. It can be at home, on trips, picnics. With the pandemic, people found other ways to bring restaurant brands home, ”says Juliana Fava, 39, marketing director.

Consumer behavior has changed and, to adapt the enterprise, many restaurants have diversified their production with frozen foods, preparation of inputs and kits to finish at home, says Luiz Rebelatto, competitiveness analyst at Sebrae. “But it is not a simple operation. Each business needs to understand its capacity ”, he says.

In the case of the Dona Zefa restaurant, the transformation involved adapting the buffet menu, which served employees of companies on the outskirts of Campos Elíseos, in the central region of São Paulo, for pê-efes in delivery. With the change, the quantities have decreased: from the former 150 meals, now about 20 are produced per day.

More adaptations were needed: an employee was dismissed, the rent was renegotiated and even furniture is being sold, says Sara da Cunha, 33, who now runs the business alone, since her mother, Zefa, returned to Ceará. “I am managing to draw. I wake up every day and think: I have to be strong, but I can’t take it anymore. I will test this FP model by the end of the year to see if the movement returns. ”

After the pandemic, houses will operate in a more simplified way, and lunchtime restaurants can change radically, says Adriana Salay, a historian and researcher on food and hunger.

For her, with the closure of restaurants, part of the memory related to cities is also being lost. “These houses even allow us to experience other cultures, including some that are not anchored in strong immigration groups, such as those from African or South American countries. With the closing, it gets lost ”, he says.

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