Shop closed and wait out the storm: How our customers are handling the coronavirus crisis

Until further notice, many restaurants and cafés will remain closed. This is certainly a sensible measure to avoid new Covid-19 infections. However, it means massive sales losses and, in the worst case, even ruin. We support our customers through the crisis. Here we will tell their stories over the next few weeks: Stories that show how they tackle their daily life and what difficult decisions they have to make. But also stories that inspire and encourage.

As a beverage retailer and grocery store, owner Axel Kusch is allowed to keep his two shops open despite the COVID-19 restrictions. But 80 per cent of customers are staying away.

"Careful Restart" for restaurants, bars and cafés

Various initiatives are working to give the gastronomy industry a reliable perspective for a reopening, while observing high safety and hygiene standards.

As an alliance partner, METRO supports, among others, the petition #restartGastro – Perspective for a careful restart of gastronomy in Germany. This petition is open to all citizens.

Actions like this also exist in other countries, for example #UnoPuntoSiete in Spain or #chiusimanonfermi in Italy.

Until further notice, many restaurants and cafés will remain closed. Given the current situation, this is certainly a sensible measure to avoid new Covid-19 infections, commonly referred to as coronavirus. However, for the hospitality industry sector, which consists of independent small businesses without a financial safety net, closing means massive sales losses and, in the worst case, even ruin. We are maintaining close contact with our customers and support them through the crisis. In this section, we will tell their stories over the next few weeks: Stories that show how they tackle their daily life and what difficult decisions they have to make. But also stories that inspire and encourage – because hardly anyone represents courage as much as independent entrepreneurs.

Abdu Salees – Fair Super Market – Bengaluru

‚When the news of a one day lockdown came in, people panicked and bought grocery to last them for years – leaving the shelfs empty in my store. The one day lockdown went into a 21 days lockdown and during this time we were caught off guard. The supply chain was disrupted and the waiting lines were never ending. At this point, the only logical answer was to not wait for the distributor but rely on METRO. METRO was the only place where I could get my supplies in Bangalore. Everywhere else was closed. Even during this time, the crowd was managed well, and the staff was very helpful, so I came in every day as normal to get things for my shop.‘


Mr Nashim from Kolkata

Nashim Ali Mondal –  Mondal Rice Center – Kolkata

 ‚When the lockdown happened I could not go out of to buy goods as there were people thronging the store – additionally, there was a need for passes which were not easily obtainable. My regular distributors wanted me to go and pick up the stock from them, but the situation was tense and the authorities were strict. To add, there was no mode of transportation to travel. It was a nightmare. I was lucky to have the METRO App so I could place my order form my store even at odd hours of the night and I would get my stuff by the next day. It really helps during such difficult times.‘

Diana Strätling – Strätlingshof - Bochum

‚On the first weekend of April we offered a Spare Ribs drive-in – the feedback was so good that we will do it again in April. Starting April 20th we will also cook a la minute and will begin with our classic – the Schnitzel Monday: “Schnitzel” to go = Drive-in! Actually, we’re doing the serving and payment absolutely contactless in the drive-in: We pass the bags with the food – that only needs to be reheated in the water bath or oven – on a long stick trough the window and our customers put the money on the slide we use to make tarte flambée. The drive-in is a good thing, but we just do it to remain the talk of the town – and to stay busy. The money we make by that doesn’t cover our costs. The retail sector isn’t doing better than us restaurateurs and we have always been working closely with local shops in Bochum – so that’s what we keep doing. So far five stores have joined our bag partnership: We serve our food in their branded bags and by that advertise for them. On Easter we offered a drive-in with Easter meals and fresh asparagus and the feedback was also very positive. Our employees are on short time and five of them help with the asparagus harvest – I think that’s absolutely great and it fills me with immense pride!‘

More information on Facebook.

Strätlingshof Diana Strätling

Sotti's Picture
Photo: Ralf Reincken

Sven and Annette Sottorff – Sotti’s – Verden 

‚We closed our pub mid-march and drastically decreased our operating expenses, but we can’t get them to zero, of course. For a couple of days now we’ve been offering a small take-out menu and we designed vouchers our customers can buy during pick-up times. Those who can’t or don’t want to come to the pub can order them online. There’s a glass of beer on the vouchers – it’s a “bait beer” and stands symbolically for our pub, of course the customers can cash them in for anything. The first reactions of our regulars were touching, some of them already ordered vouchers. We’re also thankful to our great team. Even though they’re on short time, some of the girls came into the pub and did some cleaning. It is right and necessary that we protect those in need of protection, but it is very hard for restaurateurs right now. I’m sure that some aren’t going to reopen in the coming months. Many think that there’s a big buck in the hospitality industry – but we’re the industry with the lowest margin. Ultimately nobody knows how things are going to be after Corona, how the people will shop, go out, party. I try to fill the time with some kind of productivity and am redecorating the back rooms and the beer garden of the Sotti’s as long as we have to remain closed.‘

More Information on Facebook.

Axel Kusch – Wein Kusch – Hildesheim & Braunschweig

‚Our two shops are still open as grocery stores, but just like there’s nothing happening on the streets, there’s very little going on here. The customer frequency has dropped to about 20 per cent. That’s why we figured out how to move a wine tasting to the internet. Our idea: We send our customers a total of 6 bottles, 3 varieties at 2 bottles each, along with olive oil, cheese or antipasti. Together we then experience an online wine tasting live. We don't just want to taste and discuss wines. Above all, we also want to offer an entertaining evening – that is coronavirus-compliant. Of course, the social occasion should be an incentive to purchase the sample package. This is how we’re trying to at least partially offset the loss of sales. I don’t want to be an online shop, but I’m trying to transfer these emotions to the net. If the demand is there, I can imagine continuing to offer it in the future.‘

Read here the full interview with Axel: ‘Virtual Wine Tasting: Coronavirus-Compliant – and still Sociable’.

More information and dates can be found on Instagram @weinkusch as well as online at

Axel Kusch, Owner of ‘Wein Kusch’ in Hildesheim and Braunschweig.

Misha Katsurin - Chinese Hi, Vietnamese Hi, Thai Hi - Kiev

‚We are closed for guests, but we work in take-away mode. Moreover we deliver food around the area within a kilometer. We are currently working to promote delivery and hope that this will keep our business afloat. We do not yet understand how profitable the delivery will be, but with all our team, we will try to share the profits to support the staff. I recorded for our 200 employees a video call about changes, shipping and what will be the opportunities for earning. The response of the employees was as positive as possible - all the circumstances were clear. The whole team brings their bikes and scooters to help with delivery.

We understand that quarantine is not likely to end on April 3, so our work plan is long-term. But it will only work if our landlords give us a deferral, preferential terms, if the state provides tax benefits and credit support. And, of course, as long as people are solvent and use the services of restaurants. We understand that if all this situation lasts for three months, then the purchasing power will fall. But for the time being we will work and hope that everything will be cool.‘

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More Information on Instagram @china.hi, @vietnam.hi & @thailand.hi and Facebook Chinese Hi, Vietnamese Hi & Thai Hi.

Dmitry Borisov - Dmytro Borisov's Restaurant Family - Kiev

‚We have closed all restaurants to comply with the MOH recommendations and city government regulations. There can be no doubt and compromise when it comes to human security. However, work continues on delivery. Strict safety and hygiene policies have been developed for delivery staff: temperature screening for the team, all couriers are wearing masks, disposable gloves and supplied by sanitizers. By the way, our Barsuk restaurant still prepares charity dinners for the military hospital, and we prepare part of the warehouse products for donation to charitable foundations.

We are feeling like startups right now. We are well aware that regular and traditional business models will no longer be effective. We are facing a somewhat new culture of consumption, a new system of business relations. We are currently working on the following scheme: we work through several hypotheses every day and quickly test them at our restaurants that operate in take-away and delivery formats, analyze in the evening, draw conclusions, and make changes. And it is done so every day. Now you need to be as fast and flexible as possible.‘

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More Information on Facebook.

Yevhen Mikhailenko - Food vs. Marketing - Kiev

‚We lost 80% of our sales. To us, this is a disaster. But we decided not to close the restaurants. In general, we have refocused production on delivery and take-away. Immediately we picked up another driver, purchased three cars and started delivery.

For us, among other things, this is an opportunity to bring a new product to the market: for a long time I was holding a trump card with a ramen for delivery, now everyone likes it, people are posting photos of how they prepare home ramen. I think the crisis creates an opportunity in the market. For someone the doors are closed, for us they are opened. We must think positively, find a way out.‘

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More Information on Instagram @foodvsmarketing & Facebook.

Tata Kepler - Barmen Dictat - Kiev

‚For us, it is super sensitive. In addition, it is not clear how long this quarantine will last. If restaurants can continue to work on delivery, then the bars are simply forced to stop working. We talked to all the vendors including landlords, all of them except one supported us in this situation. After all, “Barmen Dictat” and all other our establishments on the market have a crystal-clear reputation, we never delay any payments. But we do not abandon our people; we pay salaries according to the schedule for the fulfilled shifts in March. We have around 150 employees in all the bars - and we definitely won't let them to struggle. We will survive for sure, I feel that way. There is no pit from which we would not get out! It just doesn't exist!‘

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More Information on Facebook.

In Astikis we are currently experiencing a 70 to 80 percent drop in sales

Erkan Karakaya, Arthur Fuchs and Samet Karakaya – Askitis greekcuisine - Düsseldorf

‘Astikis is currently experiencing 70 to 80 per cent loss of revenue. On the first day of our delivery and pick-up service, only 5 orders came in. Of course, that’s not a lot. Therefore, only the owners and family members are working here right now. We handle the deliveries ourselves. We have a lot of employees who’ve been with us for years; they miss the routine and are sad about the situation. We take each day as it comes now. That’s all we can do. That’s why we’re only focusing on the delivery and pick-up service and making the best of it. One thing keeps me motivated: I feel like people are sticking together more. Especially the regulars – they’re worried about us. For the first time, we also sense more interest in the local businesses: People in Düsseldorf – or Germans in general – are shifting towards local business and are proclaiming: Hey, we need to support the neighbourhood restaurants, not the big chains.’

Arthur Fuchs – Schvarz Café  – Düsseldorf

‘Schvarz Café is facing a completely new situation. As a coffee-roasting business, we specialised in supplying restaurants and offices: of our 100 commercial customers, 95 dropped out overnight. Luckily, we were able to pick up new private customers. In the last two weeks we’ve seen a 400 per cent increase. That saves us for now. But our concept has completely changed. Just like METRO for food, we were the partner for the hospitality industry, and now we purely operate online. To avoid losing touch with our private clients, we decided from one day to another that we would supply the Düsseldorf customers directly if they asked for it. The response has been great. The fact that people are working from home works in our favour. Nevertheless, we’ve suffered significant losses because private customers naturally don’t order the same quantities as restaurateurs. As a result, only half of our employees are currently still working.’

Arthur Fuchs - As a roasting plant, we have specialised in supplying restaurants and offices.

With her restaurant, owner Jackie Hingsen brings lightness and joie de vivre of the US West Coast to Germany.

Jackie Hingsen – Cali Eats – Düsseldorf

'Nothing can put me in a bad mood right now – not even the coronavirus. But that’s probably also because I just became a mother. And since my husband started working from home, he can now spend more time with our little daughter. That’s what makes us happy.
Regarding Cali Eats, we’re simply reacting at the moment and relying on to-go orders, which allows us to cover our expenses (so far). We use everything available to us so that we can pay our employees for as many hours as possible. But I’d like to see better government policies about short-time work and options for parents with children. A tax abatement or reduced social security contributions would be helpful. Also, suppliers could offer better conditions, since it’s really the retail industry that benefits.

At the moment we are still well positioned. The question is whether this really stays at 2 weeks or rather 4, 6 or even 8 weeks. But we’re all in the same boat and it’s all uncertain anyway, so I just have to stay positive. In a crisis you’re forced to be creative. And our customers stick with us and are very happy that we are still open.'

More Information about Cali Eats via Instragram

Frank Stauga – Altes Amtshaus – Wildeshausen

‘We closed our restaurants in Verden and Wildeshausen to protect our employees and guests – but the pantries were full. That's why we’ve been offering free food for anyone who wants it since the 23 of March – for pick up at our parking lot or via delivery. People simply have to order in advance by phone or email. This is the requirement of the public order office. There is no menu. There is simply good food from what is available and what our regional partners bring us. For days I’ve been standing in the kitchen making chutneys, pestos and oils from foods that would otherwise spoil. We aren’t taking any money for it; we just don't want to have to throw anything away and maybe do something good for the people as well. On the 23 of March we served about 70 meals – but there could be more to come. If you need a meal, you can get it from us. We are not asking why. As long as we receive food donations from the regional companies, we will continue to do as we are.’

More information about the activities of Frank Stauga and his team can be found on his Facebook page.

Frank Stauga

Fridolin Taudtmann – Buchkantine – Berlin

‘Within a few days I had to part with a third of my employees and applied for short-time work. That was incredibly emotional. At first, we reduced our previous 80 seats to 40 in order to maintain the required minimum distance. But even they often remained empty. By now, we’ve had to close the restaurant. As a preventive measure, we have taken advantage of everything that can be claimed; for example, we have applied for tax deferments and adjusted the health insurance prepayments. The fact that we have a bookshop in addition to the restaurant is a blessing for us. People are staying home. The schools and day-care centres are closed. That's when people buy books which they can have them delivered to their home via our online shop.’

Read here the full interview with Fridolin: "Our Industry is not crisis-proof at all"


Danny Derbe – Zum Bierseidel – Berlin

‘With a heavy heart I closed my three shops. We tried take-away food, but it just wasn't worth it – especially since the shops are not in heavily trafficked locations where people walk by and pick something up spontaneously. Right now, I'm still busy securing the shops so that they aren’t exposed for vandalism, for example, if someone damages the patio furniture. One landlord already remitted part of the rent – I was very touched by that. I’m working on individual solutions with my employees and of course I hope that all this will soon be over and that we can start over together.’

Find here the full interview with Danny: "A lot of questions, a lot of hope: ‘I need my employees when I open back up."

Danny Derbe

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