The Covid-19 pandemic has plunged the gastronomy industry into an existential crisis. Under strict hygiene and distance requirements, shops, smaller stores and hairdressing salons can now dare to make a new start. A new start has now also been announced for the gastronomes, albeit under strict conditions. A return to normal conditions and thus to sales before Corona is therefore not possible. Restaurateurs in various METRO countries receive support for a careful, regulated new start. Broad alliances of partners, including METRO, have already put forward concrete demands to the decision-makers at an early stage.
Restaurants are not only suppliers of food and drink, but offer social spaces in which humanity is lived.German chef and restaurant owner Tim Raue
#restartGastro: 'Careful restart' for restaurants, bars and cafés
With #restartGastro an alliance of more than 200 partners, restaurateurs, chefs, associations and companies demands from the German Federal Government a safe reopening of the industry in a responsible way. METRO was among the first supporters of the petition initiated by the German wholesale association Foodservice. The signatories not only advocate a secure perspective with distance regulations and hygiene requirements. They also call for concrete support measures – such as an expansion of the emergency aid through a rescue fund with direct financial aid for restaurateurs. A first small partial success was achieved with a temporary reduction of the VAT rate to 7% for one year.
METRO was among the first supporters of the petition initiated by the German wholesale association Foodservice. The signatories not only advocate a secure perspective with distance regulations and hygiene requirements. They also call for concrete support measures – such as an expansion of the emergency aid through a rescue fund with direct financial aid for restaurateurs. A first partial success was achieved with a temporary reduction of the VAT rate to 7% for one year.
In the ‘Deep Dive Gastro’ Podcast of digital kompakt former METRO CEO Olaf Koch and Michelin-starred chef Tim Raue talk about how restaurateurs and suppliers are dealing with the crisis.
The new rules will be very difficult to implement, especially for small entrepreneurs. We'll have to find creative ways, for example by allowing seating in unused open spaces next to restaurants.Hendrik Haase, food activist and food expert
In order to draw attention to the situation of gastronomy with one voice, several initiatives have now joined forces in Germany: besides #restartGastro, the initiators behind #wirsindbereit und #leereStühle are also committed to the restart of gastronomy and concrete help. Behind it stand independent gastronomers, associations, media, service providers and suppliers. Their demands have already been supported by almost 140,000 people with their signatures.
The initiative received attention through a guerrilla action in which chef Tim Raue, Jennifer Mulinde-Schmidt, known in the scene as "Schwarze Heidi", Food expert Hendrik Haase and Marcus Schwenke, Managing Director of the Wholesale trade association Foodservice, drew attention to the concerns and hardships of the restaurateurs in the current situation with an oversized plate in front of the Berlin Reichstag
Every restaurant is different. Everyone has to act differently. I usually serve fondue and Swiss tapas as a 'social meals', for sharing – I face many challenges.Gastronomer and actress Jennifer Mulinde-Schmid
#chiusimanonfermi in Italy and #UnoPuntoSiete in SpainThe initiative #chiusimanonfermi, "Food, wine, hospitality: Italian culture and values. Let's save them together" is addressed to the Italian government and divides its demands into two phases. For the current phase of the closure due to Covid-19, 4 far-reaching immediate measures are listed, such as the demand for an immediate suspension of the payment of taxes, social security and welfare charges and contributions. For the phase of reopening, the petition foresees 10 more points as indispensable, including the demand for a revaluation of products "Made in Italy" and a 35% reduction of social security contributions for workers.
In Spain, 1.7 million workers in the hospitality sector are affected by the effects of Covid-19. A sector that accounts for 6.2% of Spanish GDP. Unlike other small businesses, its liquidity depends entirely on its ongoing business. No guests, no turnover. With the #unopuntosiete initiative, well-known initiators in the country give a voice to the restaurateurs and draw attention to the needs of the people in the sector.
#supportyourlocal – Pick-up service and DeliveryNo wonder, then, that shortly after restaurants across Germany had to close, an initiative to support them was launched on social networks. Under the hashtag #supportyourlocal, people have since been publishing photos of food delivered or picked up from their favourite restaurant. Since then, this movement has resulted in many other initiatives. One of them is the ‘Local Gastro platform’ where restaurants can register for free to post their offers.
This is particularly important for companies that previously did not offer delivery or pick-up services, since it connects them with potential customers. Local Gastro is growing every day and meanwhile provides an overview of gastronomic offers from 30 cities, including Bonn, Lübeck, Wuppertal and Zinnowitz.
METRO has joined forces with the local e-commerce marketplace Groupon to support its restaurateurs in marketing and expanding their pick-up or delivery services. Commission-free until 31 May 2020, METRO customers can advertise their services on Groupon, the marketing platform for discount and special offers - in 7 countries.
Pay today, consume after the crisis
Other initiatives focus on the sale of vouchers. One of the first ones to do so was Helfen.Berlin. The idea for the platform started in mid-March: pay today, consume after the crisis. Affected businesses can register and offer vouchers. Supporters buy them directly, but will only redeem the voucher when their favourite restaurant is open again. Helfen.Berlin is operated voluntarily by several Berlin founders. According to operators, around 2,200 locations have been registered on the platform so far and vouchers worth EUR 702,516 (as of 6/4/2020) have been sold.
Initiatives to sell vouchers have now become established in almost every major German city or region. Examples include mainz.help in Mainz, Rette deinen Lieblingsladen in Augsburg, the nationwide platform Pay Now Eat Later or Hilfe.Lokal.
At Hilfe.Lokal shops can offer their vouchers online for sale. The registration was free of charge and commission-free via the gastronomy platform DISH and the website METRO Deutschland. Until the end of May, METRO will cover the costs for registration and commission. Registration only takes a few minutes. A fully-fledged voucher system for processing will be provided and this will also apply to stores that have not yet worked with online vouchers. Customers can thus support their favourite shops in their immediate vicinity by purchasing and paying for vouchers now and redeeming them or letting them expire after the crisis. This way, they can already look forward to something together or simply let the voucher expire in solidarity and thus support the business even more directly.
The large amount of newly created blogs and platforms is an impressive illustration of how great the willingness is to help local businesses. This is not the only reason for optimism in the current crisis. More importantly, the vouchers show especially that better times are ahead of us.