Subscriber login Close [x]
remember me
You are not logged in.

Long read: Top tips for a roaring recovery

Published:  21 October, 2021

All businesses were hit hard by the pandemic, though arguably none more so than the hospitality industry. Having worked with hundreds of bars, cafes, wineries, breweries, distilleries and cideries across the world, Erik Wolf, executive director of the World Food Travel Association, takes us through his top tips on how beverage business managers and owners can super-charge their post-pandemic recovery.


Perhaps the most frequent oversight we see is not sharing frequent updates. Broadcast on all available channels when you are open. Nothing is more frustrating for guests trying to figure out the new normal, which may include partial closures, reduced drink service, seating capacity controls and so on.

This doesn’t just mean social media: storefront or street signage is essential. Don’t count on your busy customers trying to remember to look for and study your social media sites. Remember that if you have a customer email list, send out a quick email when needed with your latest schedule changes, or create a WhatsApp group for just your customers and post regular updates like “We’re open for drinks (or our Tasting Room is open) this week Wednesday-Sunday 5 to 9pm”. Your business will stay top of mind, and your customers will appreciate it.


While lockdowns and restrictions are easing in some parts of the world, many are still wary and taking precautions when going out for a drink. It’s important to make all your customers feel safe and comfortable in your venue. If you have not done so already, consider expanding your offering to include outdoor seating, weather permitting. Use every space you can, from pavements to parking areas, and make sure you still provide enough space between tables. It is tempting to squeeze in a few more tables to bring in additional revenue, but this will be off-putting to potential customers.

Also, offer drinks menus using QR codes for customers to access on smartphones. For customers without a smartphone, you can print paper drink menus that you later recycle after each use. As tempting as it may be, do not reuse paper menus between customers. Customers notice.


We know how hard it is currently to get staff to come back to work, which is ironic, since plenty of others complain about not being able to find work. You can only offer table service that corresponds to your server count. If you cannot reopen because of a lack of staff, then reduce the days or hours you are open.

New staff will need training on the new health and safety requirements. And make sure that your new or returning workers feel genuinely appreciated. Pay living wages and be cautious not to overload staff with extra responsibilities without rewarding them. If you are unable to offer more pay, provide different types of incentives with transparency.


Try supporting a local NGO by adding a voluntary donation onto bills or asking for volunteers for community work. Be transparent about how much is donated to which organisations and when. Not only will this make a positive difference to the causes you support, but it will also improve brand perception and reputation, boost employee morale and engender team satisfaction.


If current events have taught us anything, it is never to take anything for granted, not even your ability to operate. Count your resources and brainstorm backup business models in case of the unexpected. Can you launch different sales channels, like selling drink mixes or cooking sauces made from beer or wine? Can you partner with other local businesses? Consider leasing out underutilised space in your venue. Nothing should be dismissed.

Develop a worst case, realistic, and best-case scenario financial projection (a potentially overlooked exercise that can really help give you an idea of where you are and could be). Then reduce spending where needed.


Ask for less plastic and other packaging waste for your delivered goods and diversify your suppliers. If you can tap into local resources, even better because buying local has a much greater economic impact (some say seven times as much) than purchasing from bigger chains.


There are so many underused sources of help. Consider small business development centres, chambers of commerce, economic development offices and business incubators, all of which offer workshops and courses on subjects like tax preparation, employee retention, sales, marketing, technology and even disaster preparedness. Such sources often offer consulting and can help you to find the right financing options for your business.


Set up your business to be a leader with good examples. Form a group or association and provide resources and guidance to industry members. Share stories across your social media channels. Invite your community to embrace these practices and share ideas of their own. Even share your learnings and new ways of doing business with other local businesses. A rising tide floats all boats.

You may have noticed that the above tips all correspond to the triple bottom line – the People, Planet, Profit concept used by many responsible businesses today. Doing business now has a lot of moving parts, many more than in years past. Putting the 3Ps at the heart of your business will help ensure you thrive now and in the future. Hopefully, these tips will make it easier for you to navigate the new landscape, attract increasing numbers of customers and stay competitive in these trying times.