What experience over the last few weeks would you like to share with other restaurateurs?
It’s great to see that there’s solidarity among restaurateurs instead of everyone just thinking about themselves. Everyone is passing along information they have. Regardless if it’s a new form or anything else, it will be forwarded and usually other people provide feedback. At least with the people I deal with I can feel the solidarity. Nobody’s trying to stay under the radar, thinking that the competition may soon be gone.
Was there a way to somehow prepare for this scenario?
No, there was no way to prepare for it. It’s hard enough to make a living in the hospitality industry all year round. Some businesses are more seasonal, but sometimes we don’t have a real summer or winter. Then there are always laws and regulations. One thing that would be beneficial for the hotel and restaurant business would be for someone to look at the 7% VAT and reassess it after this crisis.
So, is the current crisis a wake-up call?
No doubt about it. I think many restaurateurs who pour their own blood, sweat and tears into their business will get back on their feet. But some will also say: ‘That’s enough! I've had it up to here. I fought a long time to make money, but now I’m retiring and it’s time to quit.’ That’s where politicians need to act. Another big problem: The hospitality industry is an employee-intensive business. We’re all happy when we have great helping hands, but it also takes a strong head to make them work efficiently. Having good staff and low turnover is like winning the lottery.
So you rely on your employees?
Absolutely. The most loyal ones are the alpha and omega of the business. If they don’t come back after this crisis, then my business will not be the same as before, even if it looks the same from the outside.