Manouche Craft Bakery and Bistro General Manager Edmond Bonett is looking to the upcoming summer with excitement, with the brand heading into the peak season with five outlets for the first time.
Throughout the pandemic, several businesses struggled to cope with the effects of COVID-19 restrictions, and while Manouche was significantly affected, it still managed to thrive and open four outlets over the course of 2021.
The outlets in Valletta, Sliema, Bay Street and Paceville joined the original one located at Spinola, which was launched in 2017.
Mr Bonett remarked that the Manouche brand is “very much in demand” and has a strong local following, yet the gradual removal of travel restrictions is also a welcome sign as tourists and holiday makers are “very much needed”.
Despite the easing of restrictions, he said that Manouche have maintained some of the recommendations from health authorities, such as having fully laminated menus for the ease of sanitisation, and keeping a safe distance between one table and another.
Onto whether people are still cautious about going to restaurants because of the virus, he said that while there might be cases where people are hesitant, this is quite “minimal”.
“There could be many reasons why one would be cautious, and I think that the ones who actually do refrain from doing so much have very valid reasons, and this should be understood and respected,” he added.
Due to such caution, along with the temporary closure of restaurants, delivery services were put at the centre of the restaurant industry throughout the pandemic, with Mr Bonett saying that there was a “tremendous increase” in food delivery orders.
“In my opinion, this trend is still going strong and will remain among us for the foreseeable future,” with it being very convenient and also providing clients with “unlimited dining experiences at their fingertips, whether at home, at work or out and about, anywhere and near enough at any time,” he said.
However, he also noted that the dining out experience “brings with it much more than the delivery service does,” and figures will gradually return to what they used to be before the pandemic.
As a result of Manouche opening more outlets throughout 2021 and hence benefitting from an increase in revenue, at one point the company could no longer enjoy the advantages of the Government’s wage supplement scheme.
“It’s been close to a year already since we had to do without it, which I strongly disagree with, as, yes, revenues have increased seeing as we opened more outlets, but so have our other fixed and variable costs, which are nowhere near quite like the increase in revenue with the same operational costs,” Mr Bonnet said.
Despite this, he still remained optimistic, saying: “With the very hopeful projections and numbers we are looking at this summer, one cannot be anything but positive, thankful, and excited.”
“The biggest opportunity lies in making sure we can still be at our peak but still maintain our standards, remain professional and still offer our customers an overall positive experience, including a good level of service, a quality product and also value for money,” he added.
Through this, the artisanal bakery and bistro aims to continue strengthening its brand, presence and also how it is perceived by the market, “which can only have a positive effect on the business.”
When referring to the restaurant industry, Mr Bonett remarked that some businesses will have contrasting views for the summer, especially since some “have, are and will struggle to cope with the demand when it comes to the team members required to operate to a certain level.”
He concluded that the supply of potential employees in the sector “is nowhere near what is required”, and “unless an analysis of previous data is done along with forecasting and planning, an energetic, dynamic and proactive approach to recruiting while offering competitive wages and fair working conditions, some will struggle to attract the necessary talent and individuals.”
Mr Bonett is vastly experienced in the hospitality industry, having also worked as Group General Manager at Xara Collection, as well as Restaurant Manager at U Bistrot and Kitchen Concepts Ltd.
Cropped Image: Edmond Bonett / LinkedIn photo
Manouche Craft Bakery and Bistro / Facebook photo