A helping hand

A helping hand

We are going through tough times, every sector is affected from the pandemic, but as always, some suffer more. It is almost sure by now that it will take time to get back to normal, and at this point there are already arguments discussing what should be the norm of the “normal.” Our world is disrupted abruptly, and the near future does not seem to be going back to what it was a few months ago.

Travelling and tourism will not be the same for a very, very long time. That is for sure. I’ve personally experienced a similar disruption in the tourism sector in the recent past in Turkey, when there was the failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016. That particular day, I was to lead a culinary walking tour for the founder of One Fine Stay, a high-end online private home rental platform, who was hopefully going to launch an Istanbul chapter to their increasing portfolio. It was a hot and humid day, the market was crazy crowded, and the tour proved to be a quite strenuous one compared to a usual day. Nevertheless, it ended well. But I remember laying on the sofa, stretching my legs, opening a can of beer and saying to my daughter, “That was a hell of a tour, if that went well, everything will be OK!” My daughter, her eyes fixed on her phone receiving a flow of messages from her friends in Ankara, replied perplexed: “Mom, they say there is a coup happening, nothing will be OK.”

It took me quite some time to believe it, but when jets started to swoosh the sky, I shivered wondering how my clients were doing. They had an early flight to take a boat tour from Bodrum, how could be that possible; questions were racing in my mind, but there was no way to help them. Needless to say, One Fine Stay was never launched in Turkey, tourism was halted abruptly, and I personally did not have a single tour for two consequent years, and only one or two tours in the years to follow. That is my firsthand experience in the niche gastronomy tourism sector, and I know those few years were not easy for many in the tourism sector.

This was a local case concerning Turkey only, but now with the pandemic, no country is exempt from the crisis. The HoReCa (Hospitality-Restaurants-Catering), hospitality industry seems to be suffering most as international travel is halted and even local travel is highly restricted, if allowed. Most restaurants and cafes are closed, even if they were open, with the occasional lockdowns, there is little chance of making business. Even if precautions will be eased, the psychological lockdown will prevail for some more time. Apparently, there is no bright future in the hospitality sector.

The most impacted from the coronavirus crisis in the food and beverage sector are the small businesses. Without support, the smaller establishments are bound to crumble under the pressure of severe conditions. It is time for the bigger actors to help the smaller ones to keep the wheels rolling again. Metro Turkey has commenced the campaign #formysmallbusiness in order to support this most vulnerable segment, offering a helping hand to get them through these tough times.

In the project that has materialized with the cooperation of Food Rescue Association (Gıda Kurtarma Derneği) and Dude Table, the main partnership of Coca-Cola and the support of Unilever Food Solutions, P&G, Barilla, Orkide Oils, Reis Food and Dimes, Metro Turkey is going to provide products and services worth 5,000 Turkish Liras with the purpose of being a lifeline for the businesses that will open shops once the precautions against the coronavirus are lifted. With this support, the small businesses in the food and beverage industries will be able to transfer their budgets to other needs and protect the employment of tens of thousands of industry laborers. For the small businesses to benefit from the project, they should operate in the food and beverage industry, have at least five employees registered to Turkey’s Social Security Administration (SGK) and generate an annual turnover of a maximum of 2 million liras or less. The qualifying businesses will be able to obtain support by applying directly to the website www.kucukisletmemicin.com, and commercial companies will also be able to provide support from the same platform.

Metro Turkey Director Boris Minialai says that one of their aims is to raise the awareness on the vulnerability of small businesses, and the first step was to support 500 establishments, but already they have reached a capacity to maintain 1000, and raised their target to give a helping hand to at least 5,000 small businesses, hopefully also securing jobs for around 40,000 employees working in the food and beverage sector. Applauses for that, Metro Turkey has conducted quite a number of outstanding projects to support the gastronomy sector, most carried out uniquely in Turkey branch, so once again they give a breath of life to the needy indeed.

Plate of the Week: A plate can be means of a great gesture. We may not be able to taste the great plates of one of the longest holding fine dining restaurants of Istanbul, but even an empty plate can be a great gift, a meaningful one indeed. The founder of Sunset Grill & Bar Barış Tansever has initiated thoughtful support project in order to provide an additional income to his employees whose income has reduced due to the long-term hiatus of their operations. He has announced that he will be donating the works they have produced with meticulous care over the years to the fund created on behalf of Sunset employees, emphasizing the sense of responsibility towards the laborers, which beget the majority of Sunset’s success. In line with the created fund, every valuable object that has witnessed important moments in Sunset history will be put to online sales. These works consist of iconic pieces like “Sunset Cookbook” containing 25 years’ worth of culinary secrets, plates produced by Villeroy Boch signed by eminent late Turkish artist Burhan Doğançay and Turkish coffee cups produced by Jumbo, again bearing Doğançay’s signature. The collection can be reached online: https://www.sunsetgrillbar.com/