Ms. Abhilasha Rana, Mr. Manoj Thapa, Mr. Prakesh Shrestha, and Mr. Sushant Thapa
Co-founders, Evoke Café and Bistro
As the lockdown prolongs, the economy continues to endure severe blows with no sight of relief. The global economy has come to a grinding halt and the hospitality industry throughout the world have been facing a disastrous impact. With growing uncertainty, the hospitality industry in Nepal too is reeling under pressure due to the current crisis. In order to comprehend the impact of the ongoing situation in the hospitality industry, NEF sought the perspective from the founders of Evoke Café and Bistro Abhilasha Rana, Prakesh Shrestha, Manoj Thapa and Sushant Thapa and prepared a brief note as below.
Impact of the current crisis on Evoke’s business operations
The lockdown happened amidst Evoke’s growth and expansion plans. All of a sudden from daily long meetings, the operations headed towards a shutdown. Now, virtual meetings are being held to discuss plans for its outlets and employees. Ideas are being considered to make individual units better post lockdown. Apart from that, culinary skills, new ideas and creativity are being explored whilst staying updated on the news and research.
Although most of the Evoke’s staffs are at home and in decent situation, in this time of crisis, they are equally worried about their jobs and their organization. Communication with most staffs are in place, whilst meetings with the heads of different operational departments are being held on a weekly basis.
Business environment post the lockdown
With the global pandemic at this time, Nepal’s hospitality industry has been hit with a huge disaster whose effect is likely to be seen throughout the year. Businesses will take a long time to revive amid this crisis. With less spending from the public on non-essential goods and services along with the fear of infection, it seems very unlikely for business to return to normal for several months or longer.
Owing to the current crisis, it is posited that Evoke’s revenue could drop by more than 50 percent for the next several months after the lockdown ends. With less revenue and high overheads, it would be very difficult to manage operations for a long time. However, there is no intention to lay off any of the employees. The plan is to transfer a few employees from Jhamiskhel and Pokhara branch to the new outlet at Lazimpat.
To manage the crisis Evoke has decided to implement the following post lockdown:
- Maintain a safe environment for employees and customers.
- Minimize costs – cut down on salary (more on higher-level employees), eliminate event and marketing costs. Shut down business in Pokhara for a 2 – 3 months post lockdown as it is going to be hit the hardest.
- Shorten opening hours
- Mobilize current pool of employees in different locations efficiently. Bring employees from Pokhara to Kathmandu to work in Lazimpat.
- Provide in house training to staff about F&B in slow days.
- Focus on additional streams of revenue – takeout, catering
- Re-engineer menu for some time.
It will take a long time for business to return to normal so Evoke’s goal for the year would be to achieve sustainability by cutting down on expenses and achieving revised sales target through additional avenues.
Role of the government
The government should start with sharing their plans on how they can help revive the economy and not just their decisions on the extension of lockdown and daily updates on COVID-19 cases. Business owners are unsure about what they have been thinking to support the economy. The government should plan to draft stimulus package for businesses and individuals.
For the hospitality industry, the government should pay serious attention to production and trade. Low supply will increase the cost of goods. Prices of essential goods have already started to take a hike. These increased costs will make it even tougher for businesses to sustain during such a crisis.
Over the past 5 years, the economy has already faced three crisis – Earthquake, Economic Blockade and COVID – 19. Businesses must focus on sustainability in the longer run. Small businesses normally run on very low cash balance. Even they should accommodate emergency funds in their annual and long-term financial plans.
The above Expert Speak edition is based on the conversation with Ms. Abhilasha Rana, Mr. Manoj Thapa, Mr. Prakesh Shrestha, and Mr. Sushant Thapa. They are the Co-founders of Evoke Café and Bistro.