Enderun Colleges held an online conference to tackle the future of tourism, the travel and hospitality industries. I caught up with the panel discussion on “Rebooting in the New Normal: Impact, Insights and Innovations in Restaurants,” composed of chef Josh Boutwood of the Bistro Group, chef Carlo Miguel of Foodee Global Concepts, Joey Garcia of Conti’s and Wendy’s, chef Cheong Yan See of Enderun Colleges and Jojo Clemente, president of the Tourism Congress of the Philippines.
Clemente said international travel would depend on what destinations would be made available for tourists since nearly all countries had been affected by the pandemic. The travel industry, he said, must cope with new safety protocols and guidelines for tourism and restaurants, such as stringent sanitation and social distancing.
Bel S. Castro, assistant dean of Enderun’s College of Hospitality, who was moderating the discussion, said that restrictions on international travel might mean that domestic travel would be the silver lining for the tourism industry.
See said that more stringent sanitation protocols weren’t new. Food handlers are supposed to get a safe food-handling certification, as required by law, he said, under Republic Act No. 10611. If employed in a restaurant, this is included in the Mayor’s permit given to the restaurant. What’s new now is that even the delivery staff will have to get the same certification.
Because of social distancing, Boutwood said, restaurants must accommodate less diners at any one time. He suggested this could be offset by faster turnover.
Miguel agreed. Before the lockdown, 90 percent of the business was dine-in, he said. Today, 90 percent is delivery.
Thus some of the wait staff must be retrained to do deliveries, he added. Moreover delivery packs must have separate hot and cold insulations.
And restaurants must have record of temperature and delivery time, he said, so they could trace the quality of food during delivery.
Because the pandemic has vastly changed the business model for the hospitality industry, Garcia urged players to check their financial health.
Things will get worse before they get better, he warned.
The lockdown, Garcia said, should afford players the time to talk with their landlords about rent adjustments, and with their staff.
The objective is to make employees keep their jobs, but to let them know that “they have to share the pain,” Garcia explained. This could mean, in some cases, the staff getting only 50 percent of their pay, since the restaurant could continue to operate but only at 50 percent of its old capacity.
Boutwood also said that he is looking into the possibility of ready-to-eat and ready-to-cook packs.
After the discussion, Chef Chele Gonzalez told me that his plan for Gallery was the same as Boutwood’s. He is launching his Gallery by Chele At Home. Gonzalez’s ready-to-eat will be called Serve It Up while the ready-to-cook will be Fire Me Up. The menu will have his signature Spanish dishes such as the black ink risotto and scallops and his mother’s lengua with mushrooms. In Gallery by Chele, there will be the signature dishes like bibingka and vegetarian/vegan menus. And, for celebrations, Gallery will also have a group menu.
Those are what these chefs are planning. Because there is no dine-in, ordering out is the restaurant’s only chance for an early “reemergence.”