Economy & Politics

Restaurants try to save the end of the year

While the catering sector will have to keep its doors closed until mid-January, restaurant owners are trying to keep their heads above water. But if the period is usually busy, this year, the alternatives are not sufficiently successful.

While the catering sector will have to keep its doors closed until mid-January, restaurant owners are trying to keep their heads above water. But if the period is usually busy, this year, the alternatives are not sufficiently successful.

(ASdN with Marlene Brey and Thomas Klein) – “A disaster”. It is in these terms that Giuseppe Parrino, owner of the Italian restaurant Roma, in the capital, comments on the government’s decision to keep the country’s restaurants and cafes closed until January 15. Because December is usually “the busiest month of the year”, underlines the restaurateur.

During this holiday season, in addition to residents’ preparations, large companies do not hesitate to please their customers and employees. “They usually organize many Christmas dinners”, underlines Christos Rizos, director of the Greek restaurant Ambrosia before adding that this year, “everything is gone”.

Wi, Restaurant Simbiosa, rue Bourbon, eröffnen in Coronazeiten, Foto: Guy Jallay / Luxemburger Wort

Despite the crisis, some do not hesitate to take up the challenge of starting a business. Even in the hospitality sector, like the founders of the “Simbiosa” restaurant. An opening which nevertheless required some adaptations to function at best in these times of sanitary restrictions.

And for some companies in the sector, the loss is significant. December represents “up to 20% of annual turnover”, estimates François Koepp, secretary general of the Federation of hoteliers, restaurateurs and cafetiers of Luxembourg (Horesca). Since the containment measures announced by the government last November, Nicolas Tanta, manager of the pizzeria “La Torre” in Luxembourg, has even divided his turnover by two.

To cope with these losses, many people have therefore set up a take-out service. Since March, “we have delivered to almost the whole country,” says Caroline Thill. But for the manager of the restaurant “Beet”, it is clear that the take away does not have the same success as at the beginning of the year. “People are ordering less because the containment is not as hard as the first one,” she explains.

2020, Griechenland, Athen: Die Stühle sind in einem Restaurant, das ab heute für 15 Tage geschlossen ist, in der Altstadt Plaka hochgestellt. Photo: Hauke-Christian Dittrich / dpa +++ dpa-Bildfunk +++

From Thursday, coffee and restaurant managers across the country will have to hang up their aprons for the next three weeks. In the capital as elsewhere, disappointment reigns in the kitchen.

Help, although meager, is nevertheless welcome. For Christos, it thus makes it possible to “compensate for the rent or other costs, but nothing more”. “This only represents 15% of our normal turnover,” explains the head of Ambrosia. Because the habits are not the same as in the restaurant.

On site, customers let themselves be tempted more. “You add an aperitif, a bottle of wine, a dessert, a coffee …” explains Giuseppe Parrino. “At home, people usually only order one dish. We do not earn money with that. “, He adds, specifying to continue despite everything to” not only customers [les] forget ”.

If they do not make up for the losses, take-out sales therefore at least have the merit of limiting breakage. But the work is lacking. For example, out of the 30 or so employees of the Beet restaurants in Luxembourg and Belval, “90% are now on partial unemployment”, regrets the manager, not hiding her concern for the future. Because for her, there is little chance that the numbers will drop when they return from vacation.

If state aid is therefore essential to the survival of the sector, for some restaurateurs, it is nevertheless too rigid. As for the payment of partial unemployment benefit, it takes too long. “I have to pay my employees the first of the month. When the compensation arrives late, I have to draw on the reserves, ”explains Christos Rizos.

At the end of November, the government nevertheless decided to step up its support for the companies most affected. All those who have lost at least 40% of their turnover will thus be able to request assistance for costs not covered. This corresponds, more concretely, to the cost of rent, electricity or even internet subscriptions. Thanks to this new allowance, 70% of these costs can be covered by the State for medium and large companies and up to 90% for small companies.

Flüchtling Alsaleh Wesam eröffnent inmitte der Pandemie ein Restaurant

Representatives of the hotel and catering industry have sent a letter to the government demanding new aid. A bottle in the sea for a sector affected, but which does not want to sink.

But to benefit from it, restaurateurs will have to be patient. The law has not yet been adopted by the Chamber of Deputies. François Koepp therefore launches an appeal to speed things up. “The aid should have been decided immediately, as soon as the sector was closed,” he said.

In addition, the representative of the federation of restaurateurs continues to campaign for more measures. Because if the aid benefits companies and employees, it does not benefit the self-employed who operate restaurants in their own name. “So far, they haven’t received anything,” he recalls. And for François Koepp, it is urgent. According to its estimates last October, this second confinement could indeed endanger some 8,000 jobs in the sector.


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