‘One day I saw 10 restaurant-for-sale ads at once’
What owners of Kazan cafes and restaurants selling their establishments say
Traffic in Kazan restaurants and cafes has expectedly decreased: people still don’t want to get vaccinated, while restaurateurs don’t have the right to let visitors without QR codes in. Income is falling, and a lot of entrepreneurs prefer to sell businesses in such conditions. Realnoe Vremya’s correspondent talked with two owners of public catering establishments who are now selling their companies. Read in our report how many agencies inspect how anti-COVID-19 measures are taken, what state support measures could help restaurateurs to stay afloat and if Kazan companies are going to hold New Year parties.
One can see cafes, restaurants and canteens for sale on ad websites in Kazan more often. In many cases, the burden of COVID-19 turned out to be too heavy for them. Rail Fayrushin (not his real name) is sure that we will have to live at such a rhythm, so he decided to sell his business by placing his canteen on a popular ad website:
“I think everybody is suffering so much, many have problems. Somebody wants to survive these times, while somebody chooses to sell the business. This has been lasting for two years already, and these restrictions will stay at least for a year, this is why I decided to sell my canteen.”
Realnoe Vremya’s interlocutor says that today public catering is on high alert. Inspectors can come anytime — and this is clear during the pandemic. Interestingly, even representatives of irrelevant agencies can do controlled purchase operations.
According to the entrepreneur’s estimates, losses from the introduction of QR codes are significant, while the state’s compensations aren’t so generous so far:
Rail Fayrushin like many of his colleagues supposes that perhaps the inspection of QR codes in public transport should have been introduced earlier than in public catering:
“Now QR codes are introduced in public transport. I think it is correct, there are more people there than in a cafe, and the risk of infection is higher there. Perhaps, is this what they should have started with? Public catering isn’t guilty of spreading the virus...”
“We turn one in three people back”
Konstantin Ivanov (not his real name) also put his Balkan cuisine restaurant for sale because COVID-19 and the compatriots’ relentless unwillingness to receive a vaccine led to a critical fall in revenue: he has to operate at a loss.
“We check codes and turn one in three people back. A group or friends or family sometimes comes, somebody doesn’t have a code, and they all go. Incomes are falling, while costs are rising. Sanitisers are necessary, masks are necessary for the staff, while we change them once in 2-3 hours according to a regulation. We cannot work at a loss for long: I will go bankrupt in six months, so I am selling the business. Perhaps, somebody will manage to cement the position, perhaps, the population will start to get vaccinated more actively. One day the people should understand this. But I don’t want to work at the moment.”
According to our interlocutor, it is not easy to find purchasers of a business: he receives calls, but there is a handful of those who are really interested in the deal. Unlike his colleague, Ivanov thinks that QR codes should have been introduced first in grocery stores, not in transport: “Everybody would have immediately been vaccinated.” He says that a social distance in cafes and restaurants is kept better than in a store or bus.
“We register a 60% turnover fall”
Executive Director of the Tatarstan Association of Restaurateurs and Hoteliers Galina Sharafutdinova says that the introduction of restrictions significantly decreased the turnover in public catering establishments, and this forces many entrepreneurs to sell businesses:
“Today we register a 60% fall in turnover in restaurants and cafes compared to the turnover before the introduction of restrictions. If we said during the first lockdown we lost 20% of the market, now it isn’t so obvious that there is a tendency that entrepreneurs cannot withstand it and are starting to sell businesses. Here the legal entity doesn’t leave the market, it is a sale, the owner changes, a business is sold. This is why as for statistical data, they are not considered, but sales are underway. One day I saw 10 restaurant-for-sale ads at once...”
As for existing and planned state support measures of the sector, Galina Sharafutdinova notes that they exist, but they aren’t always enough:
What will help a restaurateur?
The executive director of the Tatarstan Association of Restaurateurs and Hoteliers thinks that tax and rent concessions could help entrepreneurs, restaurateurs have been asking for them for a long time:
“The measure that will allow freeing the fourth quarter from taxes would be important. I don’t mean a respite but liberation from regional taxes. Also, we want communal costs to be subsidised like in Moscow. Last year, there was good support in the form of compensations for costs on disinfectants. We know that the subsidisation of delivery fees plan to resume in 2022, and we are waiting for it very much. It is also important that tenants of municipal areas be at least partly liberated from the payment or made discounts. As for those who rent private facilities, giving tenants the possibility of not paying property tax would be a sensible measure. They, in turn, would offer rent concessions for public catering.”
Calm New Year?
There is no traditional buzz in party bookings even on the threshold of the New Year holidays. Many, including very popular establishments, still have free dates in late December, while everything used to be booked by mid-November. Galina Sharafutdinova says:
“Demand is very low. There are few bookings, the most popular days used to be usually occupied during this time. Today there are quite a lot of offers. We have talked with companies that hosted corporate parties in our establishments, first of all, they care about safety. Somebody in general cancels corporate parties. Somebody doesn’t understand what will happen to restaurants in December, they don’t want to risk and prefer renting country houses and cottages...”