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Insight

Lessons from a Pandemic

17 July 2021 - By Elie Merhy

It is 1889 in Naples Italy. King Umberto I and his wife, queen Margherita of Savoy, famished as they could be, decide that having a taste of the commoner’s food would not be that bad of an idea. A quick royal decree later, they get pizza delivered to their doorstep in what is today known as the first recorded food delivery ever. The 1800s, although blessed with the innovation of food delivery, were grimly plagued by non-other than the yellow fever. The more perceptive among you might already have a flare of the link that our writers are trying to draw up for you. Today, our world is plagued yet again by a devastating pathogen. And although the first food delivery ever and the yellow fever are as correlated to each other as quantum physics and yetis are, in 2021, pandemics and food deliveries might after all, turn out to be a bit more intertwined than we thought. In this issue, we will be tackling the many facets of FNB that were affected by the covid-19 pandemic. Here are a couple of lessons learned from a pandemic.

Improvise, adapt, overcome. You have probably heard that sentence said at least a couple of times in the cheesiest action movies. Truth is, most if not all F&B businesses had to, well, improvise, adapt, and overcome. With the pandemic taking the world by storm, sit-down restaurants saw a sharp decrease in the customers stepping at their doors. Consequently, a job decrease in the FNB sector saw the “re-funneling” of the staff to delivery (Thank you again King Umberto I) and take-away. This highlights how “fluid” the F&B sector has to be to overcome the unexpected.

Let us talk about sanitization and food for a second now. Jump back a couple of years. Before we had to wear masks in public and all that. The people handling your food had to wear hairnets and gloves. Now add a facemask and a face-shield to the equation, and hey, you are back in 2021. What is interesting enough is that although covid-19 is not known to be transmitted through food, a large majority of customers find it unnegotiable for the cooks handling their food to be wearing both the mask and the shield, a hindrance, to say the least, from where the cooks stand. Now we are in no way taking sides in this - the WHO and GHS leave little room for speculation on the subject- we are merely highlighting, yet again, how the pandemic has affected businesses to their very core, and how even the smallest details are subject to scrutinization. Now give this thought a second. How would you truly feel if the person handling your food wore no mask? We can guess your answer, and yes, we do feel the same way.

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Now for the germophobes out there (us included), we think it is worth it to give restaurants a cookie for the extra mile they went when it comes down to sanitation; Contactless menus, and paying via QR codes? Check. Architectural revamp of restaurants and venues even post-pandemic to ensure social distancing? Check.  Contactless delivery? Check. And don’t get us talking about sealed packaging… Although implanted during the pandemic, we can see these changes, or should we call them improvements, hanging around for the foreseeable future for sure.