As South Africa braces for the third wave of Covid-19 infections, the restaurant industry is already feeling the effects of reduced trading hours.
The already hard-pressed industry was dealt a further blow last month as the president announced the return to an adjusted level 2 lockdown in a bid to curb the spread of the Coronavirus.
The regulations mean restaurants must close their doors by 10pm. Additionally, each venue must determine the maximum number of customers permitted, based on social distancing guidelines.
Forced to navigate these challenges, some establishments and companies have developed innovative ways to stay afloat.
Collaborations with industry members have been especially effective.
One such collaboration is between South Africa’s largest fine wine marketplace Port2Port, and restaurants.
The online marketplace now allows restaurants the option to sell their wine stock directly to the public.
Reflecting on how the new regulations affect the industry, and how collaborative efforts between members are saving the industry, founder of Port2Port, Nicolò Pudel said that the hospitality industry had been hard hit by Covid-19 regulations, with curfews limiting trading hours.
Pudel said a succession of alcohol bans had also severely restricted turnover for most restaurants, with the industry traditionally relying on alcohol sales to bolster profits, and many restaurants are sitting on unsold stock, which has led to financial strain.
Ellerman House head sommelier, Wayve Kolevsohn added that many restaurants, especially fine-dining restaurants, make their biggest margin on wine sales, and suddenly, they were forced to close and were not able to move this stock.
When it came to collaborative efforts, Pudel said they have come together with wineries to bring special selections of wines not readily available to consumers. He said they don’t undersell the winery or restaurant, and that everything they do is in agreement with their vendors as they give them the platform, and they control promotions on the stock.
Speaking of all things wine, after seeing double-digit online wine sales growth, as customers opt for online shopping and digital experiences, retail company Woolworths launched a new virtual WCellar experience – showcasing an exclusive and curated wine offer specially for their customers.
WCellar online offers customers digital access to its expertly curated wine selection, wine know-how, and is the hub of the WCellar Wine Club.
The WCellar Wine Club, went virtual during the lockdown and to date has hosted 24 virtual events, including tastings with Moses Magwaza, Restaurant Mosaic’s head sommelier, Tinashe Nyamudoka, The Test Kitchen head sommelier, and Spier and Springfield wine estates, to name a few.
Woolworths head of online and mobile, Liz Hillock said the Covid-19 pandemic had given them an invaluable opportunity to develop and improve their customer shopping experience.
“This latest WCellar launch comes hot on the heels of our new concept stand alone liquor store and our beauty virtual try-on, and virtual beauty consultations launched a few weeks ago. We are delighted to be able to bring the world of wine to our customers’ living rooms through these extraordinary digital experiences.
“We are working to become a one-stop shop for the most exciting wines in the country, and we hope that our customers find our new virtual experiences educational, entertaining and fun,” said Hillock. The new WCellar page, including the new virtual experiences, is accessible and available on mobile, through the Woolies app and website.