At first Mayors and Governors, everyone hoped for a more decisive and effective central intervention that lived up to expectations, to ensure that Italy remained the country of the “Dolce Vita”. Then, bars and restaurants realized at their expense that it was time to roll up their sleeves once again, to give the ultimate test of endurance in an obstacle course all to overcome, many did not make it and in the interconnected world failures travel as fast as the pathogen that caused the disaster.
The data of a research, Fiepet (Italian Federation of public and tourist operators) on 300 associated companies show a drop in turnover of more than 50%, and two out of ten businesses fear closure. If we then evaluate the fears for a future with a continuation of the crisis, 87.5% would evaluate a definitive reduction in the number of employees. Italian cities are suffering, not only from the lack of foreign admirers – an estimated 11 million fewer tourists – but also from the drop in office supply. Smart working has certainly saved the lives of many companies, but has penalized many others, especially those related to catering.
Signs of timid optimism and the unmistakable desire for some normalcy push citizens out of their lairs, thanks to the heat and the need to regain possession of a rediscovered life, even in conviviality, substantiated by rites, especially for us Italians, of intensity and Mediterranean passion, healthy foods close to their traditions, increasingly present in the culinary choices of all of us.
The capital marks the rise of the suburbs. The size of a city like Rome has dynamics and centrifugal forces in it, due to the lack of the usual tourist flow that leads the world to visit the eternal city. The same penalizing dynamics referring to remote work, which, wanting to see the glass half full, allows the Capitoline citizens to regain possession of a city that in its anomalous tourist-free center, rediscovers the timeless charm of rediscovered spaces and depth perspectives unknown to most.
The restaurateurs tell of a certain bipolar situation, the average receipt amount drops, but there is a desire to get out of the shell. Certainly some dynamics can be interpreted: people go more easily to the neighborhood restaurant, the one they reach on foot and where they feel safer, almost a sort of extension of their kitchen, preferring open spaces. Simplicity is rewarding, restaurants and pizzerias, especially if with a young appeal, since they represent the offer addressed to those who have less feeling of economic uncertainty on their shoulders and live day by day.
Milan all considered well, but not very well. A proven city, but eager to leave in search of redemption in the eyes of other cities and the whole world. A timid recovery of events, albeit with caution. Also thanks to the many bond sales initiatives that customers collect today. The income for the restaurant is reduced, of course, but it is recovered with extras (wine for example), thanks to the idea of having saved with the preventive purchase that leads to spending more by seeing a lower bill.
Much more negative scenarios were ahead. Of course you go out especially on the weekend. The bet to be won is in September, with the increase in the return to work in the presence and the attenuation of smart working, maybe a few more trips, allowing foreign scenarios. In the meantime, you live day by day, taking what little or so much good can offer by returning to the concept of living “here and now”. The choice to privilege the terrace and to anticipate the times was also a winning one, aligning with the consolidated international habits.
And it is precisely abroad that the situation seems to be particularly critical. In the USA where the largest number of Italian restaurateurs abroad is registered, the pandemic situation is still far from recovering. Restaurants close.
Texas, Florida and Arizona, the states most in difficulty in containing the recovery of the contagion, and this also due to a certain confusion in imposing security measures on the population, which in many cities continued to live as if nothing had happened, policies to combat inconsistent viruses, on one hand an appeal for prudence, on the other the choice to organize the republican convention in Huston, one of the most affected cities.
In New York, Mayor De Blasio postponed the resumption of restaurant business, 4 out of 5 businesses failed to pay the rent in June. While, as happened also in Italy at the beginning of the end of the lockdown, the requests to use outdoor spaces have multiplied (already 6800).
The mayor has launched a specific plan regarding “Open Streets”, with a partial application at the moment that sees 22 streets of New York closed to traffic, to allow bars and restaurants to set up tables from Friday afternoon and throughout the weekend, in the months of July and August.
However, an organic vision of anti-contagion measures is missing, restaurants are left more freedom, but often they are forced to operate at 50% of their capacity or only in outdoor spaces. Since the beginning of July, states that have imposed a new stop for bars also in Florida, Texas, Arizona and Idaho.
Waiting for the tension to ease in the United States, as well as in Italy, we propose an interview with Fabrizio Schenardi, executive chef of the Orlando Four Season, as part of the “A taste of Piedmont” initiative, organized by IFSE international cooking school in the pre-covid era.