July 31, 2021

Restaurant owners worried about a lack of staff for the reopening of the rooms from June 9

On Wednesday June 9, the La Coupole brasserie, emblem of the Montparnasse district in Paris, will raise the curtain and will not lower it until 11 p.m., the new curfew schedule. A long-awaited moment for its regulars, eager to return to the large Art Deco room, after seven months of dormancy. Never seen. Opposite, La Rotonde, an address made famous by Emmanuel Macron who celebrated his success there in the first round of the presidential election, has already been welcoming its customers since May 19.

On this date, the first phase of the reopening of bars and restaurants was initiated. But under conditions. Consumers could only sit on the terrace, the gauge was limited to 50%, and the curfew set at 9 p.m. Strict constraints that have led establishment owners to design a restart program “À la carte”.

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And especially slowly. “Normally, it’s our closing period in May and June, but, out of respect for the help we receive, we opened the restaurant at noon, starting on May 19th. Not in the evening, because, with us, it is cold immediately ”, tell Placida and François Will, owners of the restaurant La Chaumière, in Font-Romeu, in the Pyrénées-Orientales, known for its Catalan specialties.

Customers jostled to celebrate this alleviation of health constraints. Too happy to return to the ritual of coffee, an aperitif or a meal break on the terrace. “We wondered if many people who had been able to go to nearby Spain, where the restaurants were open, would come. It went well, they wanted to find us. There was a boom, even though we are now seeing a decline ”, they explain.

“The customers were there”

Unsurprisingly, the bars and brasseries with large well-located terraces were the big winners of this first stage. The crowded Parisian terraces have proven it. Even if the weather has sometimes been a spoiler. “The customers were there, but the establishments sometimes had to close depending on the vagaries of the weather, it’s a shame. It rained very regularly ”, notes Charles Dorémus, owner of the restaurant chain Au bureau, present throughout the country.

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“For us restaurateurs, the real start will take place on June 9, with the reception of customers in the dining room. Those who had a terrace tinkered with it a bit, while waiting ”, says Hubert Jan, president of the catering branch of the Hospitality Industry Trades Union (UMIH). At first, he only opened the bar of his establishment Chez Hubert, in Fouesnant, in Finistère, to renew the link with his customers. But he decided to anticipate the deep end of June 9 a little.

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