How hotels, night clubs, restaurants grapple with Covid-19 challenges

•Commercial bike haulage firms now offer food delivery services

 

 

 

Earlier, when the government ordered lockdowns of two major states in the country, Lagos and Ogun, as well as the Federal Capital Territory, in order to contain the further spread of the coronavirus, plaguing the country, hotels, clubs, eateries, restaurants and open bars, found it difficult running their businesses and keeping their long list of staff. They were losing patronage due to the fear of Covid-19, but today, they have found means of coping with the situation to earn revenue amid lockdowns, especially with the coming on board of dispatch riders and home food delivery services to cushion the effects of the lockdown. CHIJIOKE IREMEKA writes

 

 

 

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any hotels, clubs and restaurants are no longer complaining about lack of patronage due to the lockdowns witnessed in almost all states of the federation. No thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic. They are beginning to make lemonade from the lemon given the situation in the country has given them.

 

 

Earlier before now, many hotels, restaurants, eateries, clubs and open bars have been on the downward dive due to no patronage. Some of them completely reduced the number of meals on their menu lists while struggling with food preservation to reduce wastage.

 

 

 

Sunday Telegraph observed that some of the eateries shut down their meal’s and ice cream sections and resorted to only sales of cakes and bread until their last stocks were sold off before they finally closed shop.

 

 

In Festac Town, Lagos, for instance, the 22 Road Sweet Sensation outfit stopped selling food, snacks and other groceries and concentrated on birthday cakes until the cakes finished, then it locked down completely.

 

 

 

Also, at the Mega Chicken at Apple Junction, Amuwo-Odofin, which used to make use of the three floors of its two-storey building for business, the ever-busy outfit scaled down its services and started using only a flat downstairs for mainly snacks and rice alone.

 

 

More so, some open bars and lodging facilities which were originally closed, now open for business but offer skeletal services where people come into to eat, drink and take food and drinks home without lodging.

 

 

Sunday Telegraph observed that some of them in some special (hidden) locations offer some secret services including ‘short time’ in quiet places but hidden; no music.

 

 

It was observed also, that some of the places where these ‘coded’ services are offered, are like graveyards as there is no single noise that could announce the presence of these outfits in such neighbourhoods.

 

 

Sunday Telegraph found out that there are hotels without Singposts and nothing to show that a hotel and accommodation services are offered in such places. Some of them are found among the living areas and have house number which the patrons identify them with.

 

 

While these hidden hospitality homes were able to maneuver the situation, the big hostels in strategic locations, were majorly affected, but today, they have found ways of coping with the situation on the ground.

 

 

However, as this still goes on for some of them, the situation is changing as some of these hotels, eateries and restaurants legally cook and deliver at customers’ doorsteps with the help of food delivery motorbike service created by the need to remain in business.

 

 

The Supervisor of one of the major outfits in Festac, Mr. John Obaru said: “Since restaurants can open now, we started cooking and sending to customers who ordered for it. We cook according to orders placed.

 

 

“We do exactly the same thing Domino Pizza does when it comes to home delivery service. We use dispatch riders who register with us. There are a number of them that have approached us to hire their services for food delivery in all part of Lagos.

 

 

“Some customers come in to drink, some buy and take to their houses.”

 

 

The manager of an open bar in Ejigbo, Don Vee, said that while customers do not sit in and drink their beer or wine, they buy and take home or any other place they want to be.

 

 

 

He said: “You know that our business is on the road and we wouldn’t do what will attract the police to this place. We sell things, but it has to be taken away.

 

 

“For our well known customers, they can call for any wine and it will be delivered to them with the help of dispatch riders and the payment will be made in cash upon delivery online. We cope with the sale of wine because I normally have good wines.

 

 

“I have worked in a winery in Spain, so I know the original wine that matters. This is more of the reason I still have my customers coming to book online. The only places I am losing revenue are in the areas of local beer which people can get from their locality.

 

 

 

“Of course the night club helps because when there is a live band, people will come and dance and drink. All these translate into revenue. But we send goods to our customers at home with our dispatch riders.”

Gokada is one of the bike-hauling firms banned from operating commercial motorcycles in Lagos. Instead of going out of business entirely, they saw an opening in food delivery service, turning them into something positive.

Gokada, launched Chop to explore opportunities in the delivery industry. This is after it was reported that the company would soon delve into logistics and boat-haulage services.

 

 

The promoters rolled out the product in order to replace the passenger-lifting commercial services and to engage its teeming riders.

 

 

The development, according to its management, is due to the ban placed on the operations of commercial motorcycles in Lagos and today partnering food vendors, hotels and restaurants among others to cushion the effects of the lockdown on the economy of these outfits and the customers who could not go out to eat due to tiredness or fear of Covid-19.

 

 

Sunday Telegraph learnt that Chop is aimed at offering food delivery services from merchants/restaurants to consumers. One of the company’s riders, who was seen with the new Chop logo.

 

 

The Chief Executive Officer of Gokada, Fahim Saleh said the startup is working on a new app, outside its default Gokada app, for deliveries alone.

 

 

“We appreciate the unwavering support we’ve received so far from members of the public and our loyalists. We are currently exploring other business verticals which include logistics.

“We are registered for commercial purposes and not just restricted to bike hauling so expect more from us. We’ll be informing you of our product launch soon,” said the company.

 

 

 

Recall that the Gokada boss was sometime reported to have lamented over the okada ban, saying that “Okada ban makes business tough for us,” but today, the company is making money with food and logistics delivery services.

 

 

This move by Gokada could be considered a very smart one due to the fact that riders, who are supposed to be left jobless due to the Okada ban, would now be engaged, helping the hungry and thirsty to stay safe and alive.

 

 

Utilising its vast array of bikes to switch to logistics is indeed very good as the okada ban exempts logistics services and dispatch riders.

 

 

At Tantalizers, 23 Road Festac, the management of the eatery advertised expressly in the front of the outfit, calling on its customers to place their meal orders through the published phone numbers on a banner in the compound and wait for delivery.

 

 

The public notices in the front of the eateries read in part: “Dear Customers, open for carry out and pick up. Stay healthy, stay safe.”

Another one reads: “Hungry, call…Delivery service available. Stay healthy, stay safe.”    

 

 

 

This is how these outfits are coping with the lockdown and latest curfew in the country. In that commercial display at the Tantalizers, a picture of a dispatch motorbike is conspicuously displayed, showing how the meal would be delivered, should customers order for meals.

 

 

Again, Sunday Telegraph learnt that with this influx of motorcycles from bike-hauling startups into the logistics space and the consequent competition this would cause, one thing is sure to happen – reduction in logistics cost. Which in the end, would be a big win for the consumers of logistics.

 

 

While many have wondered what the other startups are up to, there is an indication that OPay is also of the ‘logistics school of thought.’ Deliveries might be too tempting to let go for Opay.

 

 

According to TechPoint, GIG Logistics (GIGL), is currently in talks with OPay’s ORide to forge a partnership for the delivery space in Lagos. This partnership could see OPay integrate about 1000 of its bikes into GIGL’s delivery service when concluded.

 

 

Nevertheless, this shines the light on what Opay could be up to with its vast fleet of bikes. It would also see the bike hailing startup rival Gokada once again, but this time, in the logistics space.

 

 

It won’t be a surprise if Max.ng is also thinking in this direction. The startup initially started out as a last-mile delivery service in 2015 before making the switch to ride-hailing shortly before Gokada appeared on the scene.

 

 

 

Also, according to Jumia Food and OFood are another group of food delivery services, providing a wide variety of foods for one to select from.

 

 

It said that online food delivery companies like Jumia Food and OFood provide a convenient platform that allow you to order food from a wide array of restaurants from your mobile and it gets delivered to your doorsteps.

 

 

 

According to Jumia, its food request service is available on Android, Windows and iOS. It is currently available in four Nigerian states including Lagos, Abuja, Port-Harcourt and Ibadan. Both platforms offer a different selection of restaurants with a wide menu to choose from.

 

 

It was learnt that Jumia Food, for instance, offers several selections of popular restaurants like KFC, Chicken Republic and Cold Stone Creamery to choose from. However, it only shows the restaurants available within 90 minutes’ delivery time of your location.

 

 

It was learnt that the minimum amount of food that can be ordered on the app is N800. With Value Added Tax and delivery, the total fees can reach up to N1000.

 

 

OFood has a similar but more affordable selection of restaurants. OFood has incorporated over 200 restaurants most of which are local and neighbourhood restaurants unlike Jumia Food high-end selection of restaurants.

 

 

OFoods provides meals for as low as N200, although it has meal options that can cost up to N1, 500. OFood also shows start ratings to help with your selection. It has sorting options like smart ordering nearest, and highest scores to help you streamline the types of restaurants you are looking for from the large list available.

 

 

Jumia Food offers 3% cashback when paying for orders with JumiaPay. However, the delivery fee on Jumia Food can cost between N150 and N1000. The delivery time takes between 40-90 minutes but there are cases where people complained that the food arrived after two hours.

 

 

Jumia Foods provides several options of payment like ATM Card and bank transfer using Jumia Pay, Cash on delivering and debit on delivery.

 

 

The business of delivering restaurants meals is slowly gaining ground in Nigeria as online platforms like Jumia and OPay are racing to capture their stake of the market amid lockdown.

 

 

Whichever platform you decide to choose ultimately depends on your needs and how they match with the offerings of both platforms.

 

 

Meanwhile, major clubs and hotels owners in Shomolu and Bariga area of Lagos State are gradually re-opening the shut down operations as few that operate complaints of low patronage.

 

 

The effect of the eased lockdown and curfew is much on them as majority of clubs and hotels have been shut down while those operating, are doing it discretely to avoid being arrested.

 

 

Some of the hotels and clubs in this regard include:  Somolu Central Hotel, Obanlearo Hotel, Adecaro Guest House, Famous Hotel, Larex Hotel, Syntos Club, Osugo Club, High Society, Dee Done Club, and Legacy Hotel.

 

 

 

At the Famous Hotel on Bankole Street, Pedro, the manager, who identified himself as ‘Yinka’ said the hotel had shut down its major operations due to coronavirus and government directives.

 

 

Yinka said that most people who come to lodge overnight were turned back to avoid government sanctions.

 

 

According to him, only a few hotels within the area are operating discretely. He added that many of the hotel workers have been asked to stay at home, pending when the lockdown is over.

 

 

“Most of the hotels have shut down their activities, and some that are still operating has sent home about 90 per cent of their staff because of the huge running cost. The hotels that operate secretly, are offering skeletal service,’’ he said.

 

 

At Obanlearo Hotel, the operator who preferred anonymity said the hotel has been lockdown for over two weeks now, saying “the lockdown has impacted seriously on hotel owners’’.

 

 

“I have asked all my workers to stay at home, pending when the situation normalises because if I tell them to come to the office, the business will run at a loss.’’

 

 

He said that few hotels were operating secretly, their guests are reducing by the day while some are not getting guest at all.

 

 

According to him, there are no events either, for halls to be used.

 

 

A club operator, Rex Relaxation Spot, who pleaded anonymity said the current situation has scared customers away from patronising the club.

 

This situation, he said, is affecting sales. He said that the security situation in the area also affected those operating secretly.

 

 

However, at the popular Festac night club, The Heavens, it was learnt that the hotel and club are not operational, yet a number of sex workers were still standing in the front of the hotel, where they used to stand in search of customers on the normal day.

 

 

The axis on First Avenue is still bubbling at night but it was learnt that there is a problem of patronage. While they stand there, many of their patrons do not patronise them due to fear of Covid-19.

 

 

You could hear them complain of zero opportunity to be selected by a man. Some of them have started selling sweets in disguise. She calls a perceived potential customer to buy sweet, with that the negotiation ensues.

“Good evening sir, do you want sweets?” she was asking our correspondent while examining what was going on there.

 

 

Her colleague laughed and said she was tired, saying after a short rest she will go and hustle for the night. At this time, it was about a few minutes after 11pm.

 

 

However, the rise of social commerce, food delivery businesses and ecommerce has created a massive playground for logistics startups, one that has not been efficiently covered – till now.

 

 

Thus, the influx of these players with thousands of motorcycles in their fleets will most likely reduce the cost of delivery for users, especially food and foodstuff items which have become a key as government issued eased lockdown guidelines and curfew to stem the Covid-19 outbreak in the country.

 

 

 

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