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“We won’t be able to resume a full-fledged business before July”

Local catering establishments in Khabarovsk are on the verge of closure due to reduced purchasing power of customers

Catering enterprises throughout the country are forced to look for ways to survive, someone is saved by delivery and take-away work, someone arranges online concerts in social networks. However, this does not always help if customers do not have money for food from a cafe or restaurant. In Khabarovsk, the local institutions suffered the most from the effects of coronavirus restrictions.

“We won’t be able to resume a full-fledged business before July”
Photo: Beer Beard Bar

Stepan Trofimets

co-owner of the Beer Beard bar, Khabarovsk

At the end of March, I was returning from Europe through Moscow. And in the capital it was already clear that the situation was tense, and in Khabarovsk it was a big surprise for everyone when they announced the introduction of a self-isolation regime. On the last Saturday before this we closed the bar earlier than usual, and on Sunday we had already organized a “crisis management council” - a zoom conference — and began to discuss what to do next. Since everything happened earlier in Moscow and many other cities, the advice of our friends from different regions was very useful.

First of all, we decided to arrange food delivery. The kitchen in our bar is small; every day we cooked a certain dish and announced a menu, for example, “today is woky”. Initially, orders came only from our regular customers, everything was kept on them. Then we began to sell deposit cards. And five more times a week we arranged live broadcasts of concerts and various performances. The groups that we had performed before participated in them. These were full-fledged acoustic concerts. There has long been a venue for various underground music in the bar, and now our old friends and friends of our friends have performed. Books were read on Tuesdays, and an auction on Saturdays. Our chef cooked the meal live and then drove it to the one who paid the most. We did not charge for concerts, not even a symbolic one. This was done in order to preserve itself not only in business, but also in the media space. True, at first there were more online visitors, and they tried to the best of our ability to support us financially, but gradually everyone runs out of money ...

My wife and I sold masks for a while - she sewed them, and I delivered them. I love working with wood, and in the new conditions I came up with grind mouthpieces. The idea is relevant, and I formulated it already for the time when the bar opens: “Support the bar, buy a wooden mouthpiece and do not touch your face!” In general, we did everything we could. But for today, only ethers have remained of all this. Demand for food from bars and restaurants decreased markedly throughout the city as a result of a decrease in the purchasing power of the population. It was not the network ones that suffered the most, but the local establishments - such as our bar. Across the city, those who began to engage in delivery now feel unprofitable: they use a lot of forces and resources, and very little profit. And during the gradual abolition of the regime of self-isolation, catering will be one of the last industries, which will begin to work in full force. I think that before July-August we will not be able to resume a full-fledged business.

Support measures for small and medium-sized businesses include only the abolition of taxes for the second quarter and the opportunity to receive a minimum wage (with a delay of two months). Given the complexity and duration of overcoming the crisis, it seems to me that it would be worthwhile to abolish taxes for the whole year.

In everything that happened, only one seems pleasing to me. The attention of our regular audience during this difficult period showed what true friends are. The guys write, call, and not only ask how they are doing, but also offer their ideas, for example, to carry out an interesting broadcast from their point of view or to sell merch with one or another symbolism. It becomes clear that they are worried about our future. And if there is a plus in the current situation, then this is what it is expressed in - over the years of work, we have created a certain community around us, and if these people did not leave us in trouble, they will continue to be with us.

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