09 Sep

The concept of going to a place that prepares food and drinks for customers goes back to around 1100 A.D., when Chinese tradesmen would travel outside their home city but weren’t accustomed to the strange local foods. Small places with local food from different regions emerged - people from the south looking for southern cooking and people from the north looking for northern cooking.

Continuing along a similar path, Japanese teahouse traditions of the 1500s came about in which entire menus were created to tell the story of a particular region. At the same time in France, the concept of “table d’höte” was expanding, a meal eaten with friends and strangers gathered around a family-style spread, all eating at a communal table.

After the 1789 Revolution in France, the concept of restaurant appeared. The word comes from the French verb “restaurer”, to restore one-self, coming from the only dish they used to serve, a bouillon, known as a “restorative broth”.

This all led us to where we are today, where there are unlimited possibilities and concepts related to the eating experience. The food itself (e.g. seafood, vegetarian), the cuisine (e.g. French, Greek, Mexican), the style of offering (e.g. tapas bar, sushi train, yum cha), amongst many other factors - cost, service, level of formality, locations, themes, etc.

Whether you are looking for a place that reminds you of home, or interested in trying different and new experiences, or just looking for a place to hang out with friends and socialise, in the end restaurants are places that bring the community and people together, in a joyful environment; they are synonymous with happiness and camaraderie, laughter, memories and celebrations.

In March 2020, a pandemic rose and the hospitality industry, amongst other industries, was put on hold. For the last 6 months (at least in Victoria, Australia), restaurants have either been temporarily closed, permanently closed, or had to change their style to delivery and takeaway. Thousands of jobs were lost and every single day local restaurant owners lose something; either many years of hard work, their identity, their income streams, or all of the above.

Who operates these local restaurants? Your neighbours!

There are different ways of supporting and helping your favourite restaurants during this difficult time.

One of these is buying gift cards. Many restaurants are offering pre-paid vouchers for customers to eat when they are back to dine in. This is a great option, firstly because usually they offer a discount so you can save some money, and in turn you will also help the restaurant as one of the main concerns right now is cash flow. You can always buy these vouchers on their websites. A great way to show some love!

Another way of supporting is helping to spread the word amongst your friends and family, share content of your favourite dishes, or explain why you really love these places. We all appreciate suggestions from the people who know us best, so refer your friends to the eateries you love!

And finally, one of the most important things you can do is to order directly from the businesses themselves. It may sometimes be a little inconvenient if you already have your restaurants and orders saved in your Ubereats or Deliveroo apps, however, every time you order directly from the restaurant, you are helping them save around 30%-35% in commissions charged by those platforms. And, in case you’re not familiar with the hospitality industry, usually after all costs (not including commission), the profit margin of a restaurant is around 10%.

In the end, it is not just about local restaurants, it is about the community because local restaurants return more than two times as much money per dollar of sales to the community than national restaurant chains do. This industry needs us!

Marcela Rodriguez

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