We asked several restaurant owners what steps they took following the imposition of the “enhanced community quarantine” and the order to close down establishments.
Many of them, such as Glenda Barretto, who closed down Via Mare and its catering services, asked their employees to use their vacation leave.
Ginny de Guzman said her Tilde Bakery & Kitchen in Makati remains open but only for takeout orders, such as its “heat-and-eat packs” (beef caldereta, callos, Batangas adobo) and breads. Mostly delivered, the packs have increased Tilde’s sales, she added.
Waiting for further government directives is the new normal, De Guzman said.
Before the quarantine, Carlo Calma Lorenzana of La Cabrera and Txoko noticed that stand-alone restaurants, or those that operate outside the shopping malls, were doing better business than those inside. “Patrons felt safer if away from a crowded place,” he surmised.
But like all restaurants in Metro Manila, his had to shut down. He did not consider delivery service because that would mean making the staff come to work. He would rather they stay safe at home.
Katrina Limcaoco Alcuaz of Old Swiss Inn said the Paco branch is closed but the Makati branch is open. Because there is no dine-in, she told the service staff to use their leaves. Her chefs continue to work to provide takeout orders for pick-up or delivery, but operating hours are only from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Old Swiss Inn dishes such as corned beef, sausages, gnagi and callos Madrileña are available. It also delivers dairy products such as milk, yogurt and kesong puti of Pinkie’s Farm Products, another Alcuaz enterprise.
Delivery fees will apply.
Robby Goco of Cyma, Green Pastures, and Souv said he initially considered offering delivery services, but decided it would be safer to let the staff stay home. Staff were provided with vitamin C tablets, and the restaurants underwent a decontamination process that used “the world’s strongest nontoxification-corrosive form,” he added.
Before the complete shutdown, food inventory was cooked and donated to hospitals for medical frontliners. Goco said his kitchen team had cooked the last perishable ingredients and produced a total of 400 meals that were sent to 12 hospitals.
Goco, who’s always been busy with consultancies that bring him to Baguio and Ilocos Sur, said he has not really slowed down. He said he continues to do planning with his staff through online conferences.Sanitation, he said, is foremost among the plans when the restaurants reopen.
Because his restaurants process a lot of salads, food-grade sanitizer will be used to clean the ingredients. Also among the plans are defogging and wiping before and after service.
Goco said he had also ordered a large water heater for dishwashing that would maintain a “kill temperature” of 78-80°C.
The new normal has given restaurateurs a long pause, enabling them to rethink ways to keep the staff and customers healthy and safe, considerations that are as important as providing delicious meals.