Bar owners in Groningen voice mounting frustration and try to diversify their businesses, as current corona lockdown for the HoReCa sector is to be extended until March 2.
Whereas restaurants have the possibility for takeaway, and shops, which already offer online sales, are expected to be allowed a click-and-collect service starting February 10 in the Netherlands, bars have been closed since October 14 with very limited options to diversify.
“It’s always the bars that come last”, says Max de Witte, owner of Groningen’s “De Graanrepubliek” literature café-bar, about the new lockdown extension. “The only guy doing anything (for us) is Merlijn (Merlijn Poolman, Groningen’s night mayor) and he’s doing it from the passion of his heart”, he continues, referring to the Local Legends campaign, an ongoing GoFundMe effort involving the possibility for patrons to support more than 70 bars and music venues in the Netherlands and abroad.
Working with platforms like Thuisbezorgd, “even though the profit would be minimum”, is now on the cards for Max who has been waiting over 8 weeks for his TVL subsidy . This latest subsidy, however, only covers 1/8 of the revenue loss for the last quarter of 2020.
“People working from home don’t understand what it’s like for business owners- they think we’re getting funds from the government, but it’s just not enough”, says Sharon Doelwijt, co-owner of Le Petit Théâtre, an alcohol-licensed cultural events business in Groningen.
“I take it one day at a time”, she says about the psychological toll of trying to get by despite limited funds and official support. Nevertheless, she looks forward to the future, planning music events for the end of April, and a poems and songs recording for Valentine’s Day. “I need to focus on the positive things, because I can’t solve the financial problems”, she says.
Le Petit Théâtre is currently doing food-takeway on Fridays and will soon be selling cake and coffee-to-go from Thursdays to Sundays.