“Moments like this show how interconnected we are”

Behind every restaurant dish are dozens of people who brought it to life. There is the diner who will dig into it. A waiter to take an order and a back waiter to remove the plate from the table when all is said and done. A chef creates the dish and a line cook cuts, chops, frys and plates it when the order comes in. A dishwasher will clean the pots and pans that brought the dish to life.

One farmer has raised the animals that bring the meat to the plate, and another farmer has grown the vegetables and greens with care. A supplier or distributor sold them to a restaurant. A truck driver brought it to the back door of the restaurant.

A public relations team helped put the restaurant on the seat, perhaps using images from a food photographer. A designer made the seat.

With the coronavirus closing restaurants and bars, everyone is struggling.

“Moments like these show our interdependence,” says Ariane Daguin, Founder and CEO of D’Artagnan. “Without restaurants, suppliers like us will have to reinvent our business to survive. Without suppliers, farmers and processors cannot survive. Without farmers, no one can survive.

The entire restaurant supply chain is in shock, as are the people at its center. The farmers are sitting on the products. Food banks that rely on additional supplies from catering businesses, stadiums, hotels and restaurants are facing shortages: food rescue had to pivot to ask local community groups and kitchens to provide food to those in need.

Suppliers are hard hit. D’Artagnan Foods, a luxury meat purveyor that counts Daniel Boulud, Bobby Flay and Thomas Keller among its customers, says 70% of its business was catering.

“Restaurant sales have stopped,” Daguin explains. “We have modernized our business model to meet the growing demand from our retail partners to keep shelves stocked and to fulfill online orders, which have increased significantly over the past few weeks.” Although sales were tough, it kept its employees, restructuring to move its restaurant sales team to support growing online sales.

Amy Zitelman, CEO and Co-Founder of Soom Foods (tahini supplier and former Forbes 30 under 30), counts restaurants for 55% of their sales. The rest is a mix of website sales, Amazon

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and 500 retail stores, primarily in DC and New York.

“The last two weeks have been surreal. Our restaurant distributors have canceled open orders, but we have seen our sales on Amazon start to pick up. »

Rebecca Matsil, Marketing and Sales Manager of Wheatgrass Perfect Foodswatched his mother’s business weather 35 years of recessions, snowstorms and natural disasters.

But COVID-19 is proving to be a significant hurdle for the organic wheatgrass and microgreens farm. “Recently our business has been down about 40% due to the closure of many juice bars and reduced foot traffic. It’s the biggest hit we’ve seen in over 35 years.

The crisis is forcing consumers to stock up on healthy drinks. “COVID-19 caused a brief spike in our business when people started realizing they needed an immunity booster and were buying double doses of wheatgrass from the juice bar. We were doing citywide emergency deliveries for juice bars that were running out.

Now the company donates frozen wheatgrass juice and microgreens to medical centers and offers interactive sprout grow kits for home consumers. Soom Foods also donates tahini and Silan date syrup to emergency kitchens.

Restaurants are a crucial part of the billion dollar wedding and event industry. Nicole Fauls Maitland, owner of Urban-looking events, claims that 100% of its business was based on restaurants and bars. “Organizing large-scale events like weddings requires space and food,” she says.

His team still works; contact couples and providers via Zoom. “Some of our couples choose to have a small ceremony so they can still be legally married, but they struggle to get marriage licenses.”

She’s hopeful for what the other side has in store, but she’s preparing plan B options. that it will affect my business for months or even years to come.

Public relations is one of the first restaurants to cut budget when they run out of money. Often, public relations in restaurants and bars is already a splurge, with some companies charging as much as five thousand dollars a month to generate buzz and drive media through the doors. For restaurants seeking accolades and global listings, this is an easy expense. But in the absence of “best of” lists, the face of public relations is changing rapidly.

Many companies have laid off employees (I got dozens of kickbacks from my favorite publicists, although some companies, like Edelmando everything in their power to retain employees).

For Lisa Nickerson, CEO and Founder of RP Nickerson, the pandemic marked time. “As restaurants and business offices closed due to COVID-19, I immediately established calls with each of our customers. We helped them identify their immediate marketing and communications needs and We have developed response plans tailored to each of their unique situations.”

But as clients suspended their contracts, Nickerson recalibrated its efforts, focusing on providing its network with inspirational content that also featured the agency’s work. “Our team developed and launched a daily webinar called Lunch with Lisa. These 25-minute webinars offer attendees a break from their day and the opportunity to refresh their heads as they listen to industry leaders share their expertise and ideas on how to adapt to this new working landscape. distance.

Sara Morgan, CEO of Eleven Eleven PR, was growing when the pandemic hit. “We had an influx of referrals, new contracts, and were looking to add to our team.”

For Eleven Eleven, the COVID-19 landscape is constantly changing. “Clients have asked us to suspend their engagements, new clients have also come to us because they believe a strong press presence is more important than ever, and for clients whose status has remained the same, our strategy global public relations has completely changed (and it continues every dayand sometimes even on time).

They care. Morgan’s team tackles a long-delayed to-do list, updates onboarding processes, and updates the website. Its restaurant customers are testing new recipes.

Bars and restaurants account for 85% of the clients of Nicole Alexander’s design firm. AT Mermaid BettyAlexander designs spaces for lively local restaurants (Asadito, Wok n Bao, Tortello, Giant, The Swill Inn, Good Measure among them), but also event spaces, lounges and fitness centers, all of which are closed at this time.

“Right now,” she explains, “we’re moving forward with our plans and doing our best to be as efficient as possible, both with budget and materials. Some aspects of the job are easier to do remotely – organizing floor plans, designing cabinetry and millwork, designing lighting schemes. But browsing through fabric swatches, tile swatches, and paint colors is really hard to do online. Our team is highly multidisciplinary, with a background in industrial design, art, sculpture, music and, of course, hospitality. Our process is therefore very collaborative between the members of the team. It’s hard to capture that kind of creative energy in a Zoom conference. »

What will the future look like? She’s not sure. “I don’t know if this restaurant will be able to prioritize an overhaul if it cares about paying its rent and taking care of its staff.”

Morgan notes that on the other side, people will return to restaurants. “I think when all of this is said and done, there will be a huge influx of business for restaurants in particular. The desire to go out to eat and drink with friends and family is an integral part of our social culture, and I think these gatherings are a top priority for many people once restrictions are lifted.

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