#LET'S LOOK FORWARD - THE TAVERN
How are you? How are you living in the moment? Well… today. Very bad the first days after the 10th of March. In reality, almost nothing has changed in these two months, but over time you get used to it and also the stress (if you do not fall into depression) you learn to manage it. From the day after closing I never stopped working. Chef and room manager work when the restaurant is open, the restaurant manager also works when it is closed. It is a joke and as such it is not quite the truth, but there is something true.
Given the current situation, do you think it is still possible to do catering? Yes, but it will not be easy and it will not always depend on the skill of the owners or managers. The protocols for the reopening will not be eternal, some obligatory and difficult provisions to implement (and digest) maybe in six months there will be no more or at least they will change. But in the meantime, in six months we have to get there and so the quality and quantity of the spaces in the rooms, which were not so important before, now become fundamental (either you have them or you don't have them). It will be essential to plan and design everything possible before opening (seats, distances, protocols for employees and customers, financial plan, etc) because after the unexpected problems to be solved will not be few. The industry definitely needs a hand, but our mistakes prior to the health emergency and a decidedly disproportionate reliance on cash flow are not attributable to the closures and should be fixed, otherwise we will not learn anything from this crisis.
How did you organize yourself during this period? Do you offer a home delivery or takeaway service? I worked from home keeping me updated on developments, decrees and planning the reopening. With Ivan (Chef) and Piero (Room Manager) I felt almost daily, a little on the phone, a little with messages and a little with zoom. With everyone, the whatsapp group was essential to keep up to date at least once a week. Ivan, in addition to some video recipes, started working with me on updating our format, while Piero carried out magnificent maintenance work to be ready at any time. I decided not to organize any alternative service to the restaurant, they will certainly leave with the restaurant open. I would not have been able to guarantee adequate health safety for my collaborators and our customers, moreover to guarantee our standards even for home delivery it is necessary to study a menu on purpose. Also for these services we have adopted our usual approach: first planning then execution, to obtain profitability and not costs (I am pleasantly envious and I offer my sincere congratulations to the colleagues who in a short time got organized and left).
Catering is not just "food". How can you make up for the lack of contact with the customer? How can you still make "an experience live"? In Taverna we appeared at the customer's service, ours is a service role and not a protagonist. The restaurant was founded on maximum hospitality but with respect and without confidence with the customer. Of course, over many years some have become friends, but in the dining room our guests are all “Kings and Queens” without distinction. Returning to your doubt, the "contact" will be there because it has never been based on physical proximity but on a type of sensitivity that is not measured in centimeters. With us you can feel good, relaxed and at a distance. Our garden, our terrace and our rooms will allow you to forget for a few hours, but remaining in complete safety, the many restrictions. I did not believe before and will continue to believe that in restaurants there are no "experiences". Our work is important and, if done well, it can give you pleasant moments, but there are other experiences in life. The right placement does not detract from our role.
Would you reopen the place to customers? Would you feel ready? Of course immediately, even if we are not ready and it is not our fault considering that the specific protocols for catering have not yet been published. Many voices, many drafts but we have to wait for the official. However, based on what has already been released, I feel calm, above all thanks to an unparalleled working group and one of the most beautiful clubs in Friuli. It would be a crime, indeed a fault, not to be able to do a good job.
When you can reopen, what will you focus on to convince customers to come back? What are your strengths? Safety, Hospitality, Professionalism. An increasingly more local cuisine that will vary more frequently and our continuous and obsessive search for the wine-producing gems of our Region.
In what ways will catering still have to improve? It is a world that is too wide and varied. I can only talk about us. We will have to improve in the design and calculation of the offer, our reference market has changed in a short time, the frequency with which the customer will come to us will absolutely have to increase. We will no longer be able to aspire to an increase in turnover because the break even point is high, we will have to lower it without losing the quality of the offer. AND hard? Without a doubt, but we believe we are good and the time has come to mind-bending as well as making your hands work. A wish for girls and boys who work in this sector, a lot will change, the seasonal workers have seen that few guarantees have been found in hand. Before the job offer was disproportionate to the demand, in the future I fear there will be a rebalancing. I hope that all operators know how to take it positively by making themselves available with the right rights but a great desire to learn and work.
Have you thought of something new to offer? The menu proposal will be reduced in choice, but we will remove the change of season. Each week there will be changes based on our research (both food and wine). We will inaugurate our dedicated proposal for home delivery and take-away. More is brewing, but I can't say everything, otherwise what a surprise it is.
In this period, what role does wine play in catering? In this period, in my opinion, there is no catering and wine is relegated to being a final balance in the balance sheet with a more or less unlikely value. If we start again he will become the companion of the table and apart from the ten unattainable labels, the game will be much more interesting. The block has reshuffled the cards for everyone and quality combined with a fair price will be the winning weapon. I am curious to find out what Friulians prefer to drink and if they choose, for a sense of belonging and greater help, the wines of their region I will be pleasantly satisfied.
A positive message for your current and future customers. We look forward to reopening the door, recommending our specialties and recommending a splendid new wine. Under the mask (ina) there is a smile and it will be impossible to hide.
Piazza Castello 2, 33010 Colloredo di Monte Albano (Udine)