These Rather Tough Times

My first post comes at an odd time. Not just odd, but surreal.

COVID-19 has come, as if from the wildest plots of thriller novels and thrust into the real world, like a tornado, taking with it lives and livelihoods. The escalation of this virus has been so quick that I can’t even keep up with the changes in regulations that are happening everyday.

Today marks the sixth (?) day of the ‘Circuit-Breaker’, implemented as part of the government’s plan to further try and contain the spread of the virus. One of the regulations put forth in this implementation was to have restaurants close for dine-in and instead be set up for delivery and takeaway only.

We find ourselves in completely new territory. Grab Food or Food Panda? Or should we instead consider Oddle that offers both an online shop platform with integrated fulfilment services or should we get an account with Shopify and work on fulfilment ourselves with a third-party? It was just madness with each of us proposing a different idea and eventually settling for what would more immediately work for us in this circumstance.

What our restaurant accomplished in just a matter of days, to have switched from a contemporary fine dining restaurant, to a fast paced modern Sri Lankan take-out concept peddling about a hundred curries and Kottu roti, was quite the feat to behold. It happened to be more successful than initially anticipated. We only hope this keeps up in the weeks to come.

I jumped at the opportunity to set up a wine takeaway shop online for the restaurant. I quickly realised two different things: first, on top of this being a completely new can of worms, it also required a very different marketing process. Second, that if there was anyone out there in the perfect position to start a wine e-commerce platform, it would be us in restaurants. Let me elaborate on this second realisation.

Restaurants like the one that I work for have acquired over the long and hard years before, a following and an established brand image. Almost all of our guests associate us with quality and trust our decisions when it comes to picking what we choose to sell in our space. I am sure that this trust pervades the many different aspects of our business including the wine program.

The question now is getting this brand image translated onto our web-based platform seamlessly. The team behind the branding of the restaurant, Restless, and I have had discussions about if we should build this up as its own entity, and not be just an extension of the restaurant. This would be something we are due to explore once COVID rides out.

As a restaurant, we work with close to 60 suppliers for just our wines alone. This generous access to wines allows the customer a candy store of options all in one place. Getting this variety online at retail markups all in one place could be an incredibly profitable prospect.

However for now, we are left to deal with the difficulties and limitations that the virus has left us to work with. We are, like many other restaurants, confident of emerging on the other side stronger than we were before. Focused on surviving this mess, I guess all other ambitions of grandiose will have to take the backseat for now.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s