[AMA] I am a Restaurant Owner - for now...

Hey guys,

I've done one of these before, but given all that's happening with the coronavirus I thought it might be interesting to give you guys an insight into the challenges we are facing at the moment, but also let you all know that #weareopen and shine a spotlight on hospitality.

Hope everyone is staying safe at the moment and praying that this will pass soon.

Just a quick poll to see how long you reckon this will last for.

Cheers,

Justin

Edit: I have had a go at making a website for delivery packs. I am not a developer so would be really grateful for any feedback. Pokemart

Edit 2: My friend is putting together a list of all the restaurants that are still open. You can find them here. If you know of any restaurants that are doing delivery they can add themselves here. Not all of us can get coverage by publishers so please show them all some love! Show your support by giving the page a like. Searchable site is on the way! #weareopenow

Thank you everyone for taking the time to comment, this is without a doubt the best place on the internet.

Poll Options

  • 56
    2 months
  • 248
    6 months
  • 81
    Longer

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closed Comments

    • Thanks you so much for the feedback. I will have a go at fixing that.

    • Do you think that the packs are priced ok?

      • Considering you are getting a $25 game as well, yes I think it is a good deal. Maybe less so for those with families? Better suited to singles/couples?

        I just spotted the limited time free delivery, so that sweetens the deal too.

        • oh yes! thanks for reminding me, we were meant to do family packs thats specifically why I requested Spot it!

  • If you're in the CBD, perhaps you could try an old fashion letter drop? Print out a few pamphlets and go out "door knocking" the bigger commercial buildings, perhaps some of them have staff working. Offer pamphlets with specials and do bulk lunch orders. It's better than doing nothing and hoping people come through the door/use apps.

    Or you could target businesses where staff are getting overworked and offer them bulk lunch orders on the cheap? Eg, supermarket staff, hospital staff, health care staff, call centre staff ..etc..

    Some businesses might place a ban on food delivery - try working around that by filming your staff prepare and deliver foods w/ face masks, gloves, hairnets..etc..

    • Hi Yoonibear,

      Thank you for taking the time to give us feedback. The problem we have at the moment is that noone wants anyone near them at the moment.

      We are working on some bulk packs but because we are in the CBD everyone seems to be working from home except the government bodies.

    • +2

      The food deliveries my relatives received in Guangzhou had the name of the person preparing it, their temperature, the person delivering it and their temperature as well. Everything was fully sealed in bags as well

      • That's soo interesting. Thank you for this insight, I'm not sure how aussies would feel about this but it makes a lot of sense.

      • I saw this too, good idea

      • A thai place near me is doing this.

  • Best indicator is the stock market and I can assure you its not 6 mths expectation .
    PM is trying to spin 6 mths looks like its working .

    • Do you think this is going to be like the great depression?

      • +2

        It won't be because we learnt from that. But the government is going to have to give away a lot of money because of lack of global coordination.

        Problem is China can lock down cities and stop people travelling. Look at what happened in Italy. Media leaks and everyone tries to make a run for it, spreading it further.

  • If you were nearby I'd come and get something off you op, had Chinese from my local last night, still delicious as always.

    • Thanks brendan! That's awesome! Keep supporting your local :)

      • Hang in there mate, I'm sure it will all blow over soon!

        • Thanks mate! We are trying. Its just really heartbreaking having to reduce staff and whatnot. The current 25k rebate doesn't even really do anything given all our staff are on the award rate and don't have much payg liabilities.

          • +1

            @justinh93: That's it, I'm sure you can survive on a skeleton staff, but it wouldn't be a good feeling having to tell people you have no work for them. The media has a lot of the blame for the panic.

            • @brendanm: I agree. This is what we have been telling them, we will also be offering food to them all to make sure noone starves but I really hope our government does something similar to NZ so that everyone can have a rood over their heads.

  • Are landlords offering rent reliefs?

    • +1

      Some are, some are still getting back to us. I am still receiving invoices for next month. I hope that they all come to the party.

      • Hopefully they will, if you pay a reduced rate, that more than zero if they are looking for tenents

  • +3

    Had a quick read through the comments and heres my quick thoughts.

    1 - I am a restaurant owner.
    Change your mind set. I provide precooked or easy to prepare meals

    2 - At this stage it is not about profit, it is about survival.
    If you can stay in business and provide 3 people with a job, that is better than closing your doors.
    As a small business myself I often price match for little profit to keep market share OR outsource to a contractor who I know needs the cash.
    Obviously you need to crunch these numbers to work out what works for you.

    3 - Talk to your creditors.
    My lease is up in 2 months and my landlord approached me to discuss a rent reduction.
    Lucky timing I know, but the discussion won't hurt.

    5- Find a niche demographic and focus on them.
    Quick easy meal packs you can pick up on your way home?

    Just some musings as I sit here pretending to work!

    • Thank you! Your musings make a lot of sense.

      I love the first one. haha.

      We have managed to get some relief from our creditors but have you had any that wouldn't budge?

      The stockpiling really hasn't helped us either as the price of most ingredients have gone up.

      • Some creditors are just stupid they live in fantasy land. This is where governments should step in. Do restaurants have a business council that speak to governments about things that would really help?

        • Okay mate. If you're bank calls you and says they are going to give you 50c in the dollar for your deposits your first impression would be "wtf?". Then you try to negotiate and try to get a 50% reduction from your creditors.

          This is the problem. It is a chain. Mr Poke Mart revenue drops 80%, ideal would be everything else drops by 80% but the employees would like to but they need their landlords to drop their rent by 80%, the landlord with a mortgage needs the bank to agree to a mortgage holiday or repayment reduction to cover the same period.

          If that is too complex. Toilet paper, you can't get any. The supermarket needs to call the factory. The factory needs to ask their staff to work more, their supplier to send extra raw materials, there is a chain. If any one of those decides to not play ball then everyone is stuffed.

        • I don't think so. There is a franchise council…. but we aren't a part of that. I think our problem is that even though its a huge industry it is super fragmented and low margin,

          What industry are you in?

      • I don't have many creditors but I did have one approaching me to ask what they could do to help. They want to keep me afloat so that they can continue to get my business once this all passes. I have also been looking at technology to see what I can do without having to visit clients. The silver lining is that like you, once we expand and find different revenue streams, they will still be there as an additional stream when we go back to 'business as usual'. I must admit I was a little disappointed my local Chinese restaurant had a closed for corona sign when I walked past today. I know it's a chinese restaurant, which probably scares some, but still there is a takeaway revenue stream and loyalty rewards that could be explored further. I'd give out a free meal to keep the turnover happening. I think we also need to remember that there is a significant demographic that are willing to support the little guy as long as it doesn't cost more and doesn't require much more effort. The other important thing is that communities support their own. Being a CBD based business this may not help, but what is your community?

        • That is so awesome! We haven't had anyone do that but most have been pretty good to us.

          That's true. We have an app so we could definitely do a buy one get one free offer. That's our problem, our community is the office workers above us.

  • You could go down a PR Route - it is free to do so.

    Media like local and different. In times of crisis, how you are helping others but suffering yourself is a good story.

    If you are going to cut - deep and fast. Better for staff who stay to feel security rather than drip, drip, drip.

    Re: delivery. It sounds like there is an opportunity for a Vendor Collective to start their own App and start stripping away the 35%. Hard to assemble capital right now though - understood.

    Another idea is to examine the books and temporarily close least well performing sites with landlord help.

    Good luck mate.

    • Hi GC1

      Thanks for taking the time to reply, we have been trying to get some PR but haven't had a lot of luck.

      Thats true, I didn't think of that with regards to staff, I thought that having something was better than nothing.

      I have considered it many times, but the delivery guys all have crazy amounts of cash and they can make loss making promos which we would never be able to compete with.

  • I like your website but the Tokyo pack is kind of hidden, a lot of links take you straight to the Poke care package.
    Since it's more expensive you might like to give it the same perks such as choosing which game you get, and the free delivery deal.
    Also it doesn't list the number of protein servings? Just says x Servings of Chicken Katsu etc.
    It's actually unclear to me why it is so much more expensive than the care package when both offer 10 meals?
    Overall I really like the idea of your food packages!

    • +1

      Hey Kail,

      Thank you for taking the time to give us feedback! We are actually just testing the pricing at the moment as we are actually still working on it.

      What do you think about the pricing?

      • +1

        I think the pricing is good for the quantity of food you are getting, but the gap between the Poke Care Package & Tokyo may discourage people from buying the Tokyo one. Maybe include more pictures of the higher quality ingredients in the Tokyo one if it has more expensive ingredients and that is the cause of the higher price?

        $99 for the 10 meals sounds really good to me, especially when you add in you the dessert and board game :)
        It's really competitive.

        I think you're doing great <3

        • +1

          Thanks Kail, we will definitely keep updating it.

          Appreciate the <3

          Hope you have a fantastic weekend regardless of these times. :)

  • Knowing what you know about how restaurants really run, and how human workers typically behave, would you feel comfortable taking your family and elderly parents out to the average restaurant for something to eat during a pandemic?

    • +1

      Hi Austria Bargain,

      That's a really good question and I would have to say it is case by case. I wouldn't take them anywhere where there I think there might be poor hygiene. I think restaurants that are really aware and implementing things like social distancing and cashless would probably be better than ones that haven't.

      Personally I still have eaten out a few times with my grandparents, but not as much as we used to.

      • I’m in my late 50s and this hasn’t stopped me going to my favourite places. A couple of weeks ago my 80ish year old friend insisted on going to his favourite Chinese place. The older you are the more careful you have to be. With the right hygiene, and not going to crowded places, I’m reasonably comfortable I’m coming through this. if I’m wrong then such is life, or not, as it may be.

        • Amazing! Please keep doing what you doing. Every sale makes a difference.

  • +1

    How about prepaid vouchers ? I would love to buy 10 vouchers from my favorite restaurant which I can start using after 2 months. It will give you cash to survive for now.

    • That's a fantastic idea!

  • -1

    Restaurant name location or ban

    You will actually benefit if you are an owner being honest because some people here will come support you

    • +1

      www.poked.com.au

      Please don't ban me!

      btw good tune name

      • +2

        Thanks my family will order soon in the near future

        • <3

  • What is it like to be a restaurant owner, do you worry about food contamination, poisoning, allergy and intolerance to customers on every order every single day? I mean there is so much you can do to prevent them but the reality is you are basically trusting your ingredients suppliers and then your staffs and then the hygiene of the shop (and shops next door). And once something happens thats pretty much the end of your shop, e.g. legal actions, defamation, etc. How do you cope with it?

    • Hi Justwii

      It is actually really different. The main lesson I've learnt is to "pick your problems" when deciding on what to do next. At the start I was thinking it'd be about cooking and the food, but its mainly about cleaning and staffing.

      We have insurance, but most importantly we work really closely with our suppliers. By going to the farms we have a lot more certainty in our supply chain. It does mean we aren't always getting the cheapest price. It is really fun though and very people focused which is good.

      I mean.. everyone says people alway need to eat… I don't think they saw a pandemic coming though.

  • I was having drinks with an american uber eats executive whilst I was holidaying in Europe, he said Australia is the only country that gets charged 35% I quote him when he said "you are our little guinea pigs, we can charge whatever commission and you just pay it".

    • That is pretty terrible but also true.

      It would be good if people start using doordash that would help!

      • +2

        "Order over $20 direct (not through an app) and get a free bag of 250g sweet Potato Crisps!!!"

        or maybe 10% or 15% off… or anything positive

        some way to entice people choose to order direct, instead of trying to deter people from ordering from the apps aka increasing app prices by 30%.

        People do look up both your store menu and ubereats menu and compare prices.

        • +1

          Great idea, I've just added both those options to our delivery platform!

          • @justinh93: Also on your website, canned corn 425g is $23.95?

            Maybe that's a 12 pack? But it doesn't say so.

            25 avocados is probably too many for 90+% of households to buy at any one time too.

  • Its a tricky situation. People are uncertain of their financial future, so they will need to save money as well…. lose lose scenario :(

    • I know… but I feel like everyone has been feeling poorer over the last year or so even though nothing changed then. Now everything has gone off a cliff.

  • +1

    Are you able to post the data by chance? For example, what was your revenue/profit by day in the last few months? I understand if you believe this may be too personal, so may be just give the percentages? Use the average of 1st Jan to 29th Feb as a base, and how much it has dropped or gone up each day since March? I would love to look at the impact COVID-19 has had on your restaurant.

    • +1

      Soo lets say if hypothetically I do 5k a week, last week it was 4k until Friday where it became 3k. We started the week at 2k and by yesterday we are at 1k.

      It is pretty crazy how rapid the drop off has been. I assume its due to the fact that all my locations are in the CBD so working from home really hurts us.

      • +1

        Wow.. ok that is much worse than what I thought. I hope you get through this tough time.

  • -1

    What’s your restaurant?

  • Hey Justin.

    Just launching an online ordering app, well actually offering more (non commission and restaurant branded) for the very reason of the stupid commissions food apps charge.

    Been running a friend's restaurant on it for a year. Happy to get you set up for free and if works great, then it's only a fixed small monthly. Won't post the website here but can message you or discuss if you're interested. I'm in melbourne also.

    Would be keen to get your thoughts too as No one is offering the value we're doing.

    Cheers.

    • Amazing! I've actually made a shopify site www.pokemart.com.au but I'd love to see what you are working on!

  • Looking at the rest of the world it's probably going to keep getting worse. I hope it returns to normal for you soon, good luck!

    If you haven't already get gift cards and delivery set up.

    https://www.opentable.com/state-of-industry

    • @justinh93 is the Mayo in the vegetarian pack vegan?

    • I don't think there would be much demand for gift cards from struggling businesses at the moment, effort is better directed on the deliveries.

      • For sure, probably not much but if it's not much effort to set up it can't hurt.

  • I was excited when I visited the website and browsed through the packages =D ..and then I realised Melbourne only ; ; (in Sydney)

    Good luck and all the best OP! =)

  • Start on food delivery and promo. Went to the local noodle shop. Go there regularly. The place was busy instore and had a lot of uber eats and Menu log. 3 staff and manager.

    I think if you offer a good product and service hopefully you get through it. The good thing is we have to eat. We don't have to buy things that are really in the end useless or need.

  • I looked at your promotions and think people don't want a free bowl . Should be a large % off for first orders if you want to improve your game . First customers of course are gold especially in the current environment .

  • -1

    I am a tax agent and have many clients who own restaurants.

    They are experiencing reduced turnover up to 50% depending which area they are operating in, even the ones in suburban places have dropped 30% in sales.

    We have suggested them to assume 6 months and review the following:
    1. Hygiene around the restaurant (disinfecting, gloves, maskers for chef / kitchen hands, etc);
    2. Cutting casual hours;
    3. Food delivery for a very low fee;
    4. Negotiating reduced rents from landlords.

    This Corona virus thing is crazy and blown way out of proportion, I know its dangerous, but the way its going, the aftermath of the virus is going to be more deadly to Australia.

    The government has no choice but to follow the herd as they are trying so hard to look like they are doing something.

    We didnt have this crazy shits when it was Ebola/SARS/bird flu.

    Good luck to you and all.

    Don't hoard and keep spending at your local businesses.

    • +7

      This comment is exactly what I'd expect from tax agents who provide unsolicited medical advice on pandemics to their clients…

      • +2

        I admit i went a bit far with downplaying the sickness a bit. But you need to check your mortality rate. That is very misleading.

  • Have you thought about catering/delivering to hospital and healthcare professionals? In UK, a nurse went to supermarket after work but couldn't buy any food. If restaurants can cater for hospitals, it seems like a win-win scenario?

  • It would seem I've been bucking the trend and eating out more.

    After spending 4 days straight for some toilet paper and rice, who has the energy to cook?

  • Hi OP - hang in there. I unfortunately only discovered your food recently. I’ve catered a few of our team meetings since and everyone loves it.

    We’ve moved to work from home but will be supporting whenever we’re in town. I might buy a pack and deliver to my team and
    eat it online together 😋

    Have you considered smaller packs? 10 might be a bit much for a single/couple who don’t want to eat the same thing all the time. Maybe consider a 5 pack?

  • Hey OP hope you manage to hang in there. Here's my feedback after a quick 5m look at your site:

    1. It's well put together. The design works, I wouldn't have known it was put together in a rush by a 'non-developer' if you hadn't said anything. Nice work.

    2. Consider renaming 'care packs' to 'Best Sellers'. Having it obvious what products people should start looking, and having the fewest clicks to add to cart and then pay is what will make the site convert. I understood what it was after reading, but before that I ignored them and went to Shop > Best Sellers.

    3. I think you mentioned you are using Shopify? I haven't used it myself but they should have some basic stats or analytics. You should have hopefully gotten a bit of traffic from this post - have a look at the stats and see which pages people went to the most. Then make sure they are the first things people see on the homepage.

    Feel free to DM if you need more help on the website / marketing as I work in the field. Cheers

    • Thanks Keith! Really appreciate the feedback. I've made the changes.

      Will defs take you up on that offer!

  • I know a guy with a share in a 50 room hotel in the country. Pretty much everyone's cancelling. They're currently relying on some corporate bulk bookings for FIFO style workers to keep their head above water but it doesn't seem likely that'll last much longer. They've told the staff they'll try to keep everyone employed for 12 weeks but as that'll put them out almost half a mil it seems unlikely they'll be able to come good on that.

    So yeah. This is going to gut a lot of businesses and create a lot of unemployed.

    We don't have the shambles of an unemployment system the US has but I don't believe we have the necessary staff and infrastructure to handle what's coming just on sign ups alone right now. I hope they're preparing.

  • Hey Justin!

    Just came across this on Twitter - nocode CEO is personally helping F&B joints setting up their own app

    https://twitter.com/bentossell/status/1241296396445257728?s=...

    I personally am launching a free marketing how-to kit for SMEs, a playbook of sorts. Feel free to slide in my DMs for further information!

    • Awesome! Thanks for this. I will definitely see what the can do for us.

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