Restaurants look for different business model as country shifts to ‘new normal’

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 12) — The coronavirus pandemic is forcing the restaurant industry to look into a different business model that would embrace the “new normal” setting, restaurateur Margarita Forés said.

The award-winning chef told CNN Philippines that restaurant owners are now preparing to create an alternative restaurant scene that would adhere to strict health protocols, especially the physical distancing rule needed to stem coronavirus spread.

With this rule in place, Forés said they expect to serve less customers, at least for the dine-in service, when businesses reopen across the country.

Considering the Filipinos’ dining habits, however, she said this change in the industry is not going to be easy.

“We know that we, Filipinos, are not so into being apart from each other,” Forés said Tuesday in an interview on CNN Philippines’ The Final Word. “We’re always sharing beautiful moments together and really kind of celebrate being together, so this is going to be a real major challenge for the restaurant industry.”

She added that besides restaurant owners putting in place rules on their own, she hopes the government will likewise set standards which they can follow.

An owner of a number of restaurants, Forés also shared their landlords have been supportive by not requiring them to pay for rent since the beginning of the lockdown.

“They’re telling us that we should see how the new normal will be, and they will address that whole situation and be supportive of what will allow us to be able to still have a positive bottom line with the new normal,” she shared.

The chef noted that the crisis has underscored solidarity among Filipinos, including restaurateurs and local farmers partnering with each other, as COVID-19 places the food supply chain under strain.

“I think what's nice is that the crisis has also really brought us all together, not just our industry but all the aggregate industries that help us survive,” she said.