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F&B Report: The biggest lessons these entrepreneurs learned amid COVID-19

More than a year after the first lockdown, these F&B insiders offer a glimpse of the future of the industry

Jar ConcengcoJune 14, 2021

We are continually witnessing the F&B industry adapt and find ways to survive at a time when restrictions abound and changes come swiftly. Many sacrifices have been made by restaurateurs and owners as the industry teeters on whether dining in is safe or not. Here, industry insiders share some of the lessons they learned to maintain a balance of profit, safety, and an optimistic outlook.

Seek new opportunities

When asked the biggest lesson the pandemic has taught them, Raintree Hospitality Group chairperson Annabella Wisniewski says, “We can and should operate more efficiently—constantly monitoring expenses and cash flow to keep the business going. Sacrifices have to be made by all, including employees, for the sake of preserving the business and jobs.”

It was critical to immediately assess their operations to stop the bleeding. Expenses and frills were minimized, operational procedures were simplified, staffing was downsized to a minimum, rent breaks were negotiated with landlords, and feasible credit terms were worked out with suppliers. Corporate chef Kalel Chan also had to increase the efficiency in the kitchen by having his chefs chip in wherever they could. “Before going to work, my chefs go to the market to buy what’s needed for the day. They also prepare food deliveries for food couriers.”

Apart from finding cost-cutting measures, it was also important to seek new ways to generate additional revenue. Opened just last May and located off the beaten path in Tagaytay,Farmer’s Table is their latest restaurant that aims to help people through ecotherapy, which, according to them is “a type of therapeutic treatment, which involves doing outdoor activities usually around nature.” Featuring a totally al fresco design on a plot of farmland and dishes leaning heavily on organic vegetables and herbs grown onsite, Farmer’s Table is a welcome concept where diners can feel safe while enjoying freshly picked produce and locally sourced ingredients.

“We saw a unique opportunity and took it,” says Wisniewski about launching Farmer’s Table in response to the pandemic. “It became more meaningful during the pandemic as we were able to help alleviate the plight of many struggling people through job creation and at the same time help lift the low morale of the community through a new and vibrant project.”

“We can and should operate more efficiently—constantly monitoring expenses and cash flow to keep the business going,” says Raintree Hospitality Group chairperson Annabella Wisniewski.


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