European Restaurant Industry Faces Heavy Losses Related To COVID-19

The American restaurant industry has taken significant losses from the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. The same is the case for Europe. However, owing to the more localized and less corporatized nature of European versus American restaurants, they are more exposed to losses (the same has been noted in the US, where mom-and-pop restaurants have struggled while corporate establishments have done well). With another series of lockdowns coming upon the continent, AP News reports that local restaurants are finding themselves at risk of closure, affecting communities and destroying jobs in an already economically suffering Europe.

…Europe’s as a resurgence of the virus is dealing a second blow to the continent’s restaurants, which already suffered under lockdowns in the spring. From Northern Ireland and Italy to the Netherlands and France, governments have shuttered eateries or severely curtailed how they operate.

More than just jobs and revenue are at stake — restaurants lie at the heart of European life. Their closures are threatening the social fabric by shutting the places where neighbors mix, extended families gather and the seeds of new families are sown.

A restaurant remains “a place where very special moments are celebrated,” said Griet Grassin of the Italian restaurant Tartufo on the outskirts of Brussels. “It’s not just the food, but it’s the well-being.”

The governments of Italy and Spain announced new measures Sunday that are aimed at curbing spiraling infections but also detrimental to dining out.

Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte announced that restaurants and bars will be required to shut at 6 p.m. daily for at least a month. Most restaurants in Italy usually don’t even start to serve dinner before 8 p.m. Milan has already seen protests over a local curfew that took effect Thursday.

In Spain, Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez declared a national curfew from 11 p.m.-6 a.m. and said he would ask lawmakers to keep in place until May. The curfew starting Sunday night means Spaniards will have to watch the clock if they want to indulge their love for a late, leisurely meal with friends. The measure could end chances for the recovery of the country’s large nightlight industry.

The reduced hours that businesses can stay open and people are allowed to be out is particularly painful since they might stretch into the Christmas holiday season, nixing everything from pre-holiday office drinks to a special New Year’s meal.

When it comes to purely calories and vitamins, “of course we can live without restaurants,” said food historian professor Peter Scholliers.

But, he asked: “We can live without being social? No, we can’t.”

Successful restaurants have always had to adapt quickly — but never has there been a challenge like this.

The European Union said the hotel and restaurant industry suffered a jaw-dropping 79.3% decline in production between February and April. Try bouncing back from that.

Summer, with its drop in COVID-19 cases and a hesitant return to travel, brought some respite, especially in coastal resorts.

But then came fall. Any giddiness that the fallout from the pandemic could somehow be contained faced the sobering reality of relentlessly rising coronavirus cases and hospitalizations. Overall, COVID-19 has killed over 250,000 people across Europe, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University. Leaders are now warning that things will get worse before they get better.

But many restaurant owners have bristled at the new restrictions and some are openly challenging them.

In London last week, the preeminent chef Yotam Ottolenghi banged pots on the street to protest restrictions that include earlier closing times.

“It’s really hard, we’ve got a great industry with lots of heart,” Ottolenghi said. “And there’s so many people who depend on it.”

If the mood of any nation is set by its stomach, surely France’s is. And it is turning as sour as a rhubarb tartlet. The streets of Paris, the culinary capital of Lyon and several other French cities were eerily empty at night during the first week of a 9 p.m. curfew scheduled to last for at least a month.

Xavier Denamur, who owns five Parisian cafes and bistros that employ around 70 workers, said the French government is unfairly punishing the industry.

“It’s a catastrophic measure,” he said, arguing any curfew should be pushed to at least 11 p.m. to allow for a proper dinner service.

Still, highlighting how the world is feeling its way in the near darkness, restaurant and food delivery business owner Matteo Lorenzon argued the opposite. “Having a curfew starting at 11 p.m., it’s too late.”

Already in September, more than 400,000 employees of restaurants and cafes in Italy, a nation of 60 million, were unemployed, according to an estimate by Fipe, the restaurant lobby group. Its prediction for the coming months was even more dire: “Hundreds of thousands of jobs risk being erased definitively.” (source)

Restaurants are a small business when compared to something like heavy industry, but they represent and important branch of the service sector that employs many people and if it is affected too hard, can result in further problems in other areas.

The economic depression in Europe is more serious than that in the US because the US can actually weather it better due to her status has holding the world’s reserve currency. Europe does not have this luxury, and so will be more affected by debt. has noted, based on the words of Niklas Frank, that a serious economic depression in Europe- which would hit Germany the hardest as she has the largest economy -would result in the potential for a serious revival of nationalism that would lead to militarism. This is a historical trend that is a constant of German history, and almost always ends in a major war of some kind in a pattern that has continued for centuries.

This is not really about restaurants save for being the ‘canary in a coal mine’ analogy, where as they go, so also decline the economy as a whole, and to that, is a sign pointing to war.

Be ready, because in the words of Frank, if there are ‘five to ten years of heavy economic problems’, then the national ‘swamp will become a lake and a sea, and will swallow Germany again’.

Donate now to help support the work of this site. When you donate, you are not donating to just any commentary group, but one that is endlessly observing the news, reading between the lines and separating hysteria and perception from reality. In, we are working every day, tirelessly investigating global trends and providing data and analysis to tell you what lies for the future.