Restaurant owners have doubts about their ability to turn any profits, or pay off huge debts accumulated in the past few months, given the lockdown restrictions on alcohol consumption.
This is the view of the Restaurant Collective. The association of sit-down restaurants completed research among its members after one week back at work since the start of the lockdown to gauge the state of the industry.
The association said none of the 176 restaurants surveyed was allowed to serve alcohol with meals, and this has influenced their ability to trade successfully.
When asked how the first week of trading went after three months of lockdown, 76.5% of respondents said they were massively down year-on-year. Almost 85% of respondents have cut their staff numbers following the lockdown.
The association said no other countries have reopened sit-down restaurants without allowing alcohol to be served.
The Restaurant Collective said many local sit-down restaurants are simply not sustainable without the sale of alcohol, with up to 70% of profits coming from these sales.
The association asked that sit-down dining establishments that already have “on consumption” liquor licences be allowed to serve alcohol, with reasonable regulations.
“These sit-down restaurants would agree to limited hours for the sale of alcohol – between 12.30pm and 9pm is suggested – and all alcohol sales would have to be accompanied by meal orders.
“Alcohol sales would also be limited to beer and wine only as these are the drinks most commonly paired with food,” the association said.
One of Restaurant Collective’s members, The Zone Soweto’s Lucky Mazibuko, said the industry can save jobs but needs to be operating at its full potential to do so.