Restaurants will ‘take years to fight back from coronavirus’
A restaurant owner with 31 years’ experience in the industry predicted it would take several years to regain ground lost in the Covid-19 crisis.
Maz Shabdeen, who was forced to close his Dockyard restaurant early in the crisis, warned that even with the reopening of businesses, “it won’t be the same”.
He said: “It’s going to be a struggle for another three or four years.”
Mr Shabdeen added that some restaurants and bars had already called it quits and others were “on the edge of closing down”.
Mr Shabdeen highlighted Bully Social on Queen Street in Hamilton as a recent casualty.
Mr Shabdeen said that the pandemic was the worst crisis the hospitality industry had ever seen and had left the sector in tatters.
He added: “I hope it goes back. But it won’t be the same industry.”
He said: “Even though we’re opening back up again, there are a lot of people jobless.
“Especially in this industry, the Government has done what it had to do with unemployment benefits, but everybody is struggling.”
Mr Shabdeen, originally from Sri Lanka, said he had been unable to send money to his family there for more than six months.
He added: “This week will be the first time. I am lucky my wife has a Government job – if not I would be in big trouble.”
Mr Shabdeen was a co-owner of The Anchor Restaurant, Bar and Lounge at the West End from 2016.
Dockyard, the home of the modern King’s Wharf, is heavily dependent on cruise ships – an industry that has also been hammered by the coronavirus.
Mr Shabdeen said his income had “stopped” since his restaurant had to shut.
But he added he had been lucky enough to get another job to help tide him over.
Mr Shabdeen said: “Before Anchor, I was a manager at Port O Call in Hamilton.
“Now I am back there. I really appreciate that my old boss rehired me to keep me going.”
Mr Shabdeen said he hoped to reopen the Anchor next month and hire new Bermudian staff.
He added: “I’m a people person, and the service industry attracts me because there is a personal touch. That’s kept me going.
“I’ve tried to reopen, but this is one of the hardest hit industries. It’s not easy.”